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EASTER,  1906 



VOL.  IV. 


W.  LINDSAY  ALEXANDER,  D.D.,  Professor  of  Theology,  Congregational 
Union,  Edinburgh. 

JAMES  BEGG,  D.D.,  Minister  of  Newington  Free  Church,  Edinburgh. 

THOMAS  J.   CRAWFORD,  D.D.,  S.T.P.,  Professor  of  Divinity,   University, 

D.  T.  K.  DRUMMOND,  M.A.,  Minister  of  St  Thomas's  Episcopal  Church, 

WILLIAM  H.  GOOLD,  D.D.,  Professor  of  Biblical  Literature  and  Church 
History,  Reformed  Presbyterian  Church,  Edinburgh. 

ANDREW  THOMSON,  D.D.,  Minister  of  Broughton  Place  United  Presby 
terian  Church,  Edinburgh. 












Epistle  Dedicatory       .  .             .             .             .             .3 

Advertisement  to  the  Reader  .                          .       7 
Preface             .......       8 

Chapter      I.    .  .                                       .     15 

II.    .  .   179 

III.  .  .270 

IV.  .  .             .  325 
V.  .   398 






YOL.  IV. 


To  the  Honourable  Colonel  ALEXANDER  POPHAM,  a  Member  of 

SIR,  —  Dedications,  though  often  abused  to  a  vain  flattery,  are  of 
ancient  use,  and  may  be  of  great  profit.  The  custom  is  the  less  to  be 
disparaged,  because  we  find  it  hallowed  by  the  practice  of  one  of  the 
penmen  of  the  Holy  Scriptures,  St  Luke,  in  his  Gospel  and  the  Acts, 
Luke  i.  3,  Acts  i.  3,  both  which  he  inscribeth  to  Theophilus,  a  per 
son  not  only  eminent  in  religion,  but  dignified  with  birth  and  place  ;  l 
which  hath  been  imitated  by  the  holy  men  of  God  in  all  ages  ;  their 
aim  in  such  inscriptions  being,  partly  to  signify  their  thankfulness  for 
favours  received  in  this  public  and  spiritual  way  of  return  ;  partly  to 
oblige  persons  eminent  by  the  respects  of  the  church,  and  by  the 
honour  of  their  name,  to  commend  their  labours  to  public  acceptance  ; 
partly  by  an  innocent  guile  to  bring  them  under  a  greater  obligation 
in  the  profession  and  practice  of  the  truths  of  religion.  It  is  usual  in 
scripture  to  ascribe  a  testimony,  producible  at  the  day  of  judgment,  to 
the  more  notable  circumstances  and  accidents  of  human  life  ;  as  to  the 
rust  of  hoarded  money,  James  v.  3  ;  to  the  solemn  publications  of  the 
gospel,  the  dust  of  the  apostles'  feet,  &c.,  Matt.  x.  And  so,  I  remem 
ber,  in  the  primitive  times,  when  grown  persons  were  baptized,  they 
were  wont  to  leave  a  stole  and  white  garment  in  the  vestry  of  the 
church  for  a  testimony  and  witness.  "Wherefore,  when  one  Elpido- 
phorus  had  revolted  from  the  faith,  the  deacon  of  the  church  came 
and  told  him,  *  0  Elpidophorus,  I  will  keep  this  stole  as  a  monument 
against  thee  to  all  eternity.'  And  truly  books,  being  public  monu 
ments,  are  much  of  this  nature,  a  testimony  likely  to  be  produced  in 
the  day  of  judgment,  not  only  against  the  author,  but  the  persons  to 
whom  they  are  inscribed,  in  case,  on  either  side,  there  be  any  defection 
in  judgment  or  manners  from  the  truths  therein  professed  ;  for  they 
being  consigned  to  their  respect  and  patronage,  they  are  drawn  into  a 
fellowship  of  the  obligation. 

1  So  much  I  conceive  is  intimated  in  that  form  of  address,  KpdnaTe  Oeo^tXe,  a  term 
which  is  wont  to  be  given  to  persons  of  honour,  as  Acts  xxiv.  3,  Kpariare  &r)\i!;,  and 
Acts  xxvi.  25,  KpaTurre  ^TJCTTG,  in  both  places  we  render  noble.  And  so  by  Justin  Martyr 
to  Diognetus,  to  whom  he  giveth  an  account  of  the  Christian  religion,  icpdrurre 
(Just.  Mart.  Epist.  ad  Diog.) 


Sir  there  are  many  reasons  why  I  should  prefix  your  name  to  this 
work  '  Besides  the  general  relation  you  have  to  the  place  whew,1  by 
SessincTof  Godri  have  enjoyed  a  quiet  and  successful  nnmstry 
and  service  in  the  word  for  these  seven  years,  I  have  good  cause  to 
your  frequent  attendance  upon  these  lectures  and  counte- 

J  .  -i   -i    i     ji        T J    n^-^4-'-,-^-,-, r\r\    TT/-mv  annna  Hmnncvsr, 

[  religion,  wr 
private  resp( 

breaches  which  at  any  „—  „  -    . 

violence-  for  all  which,  if  the  Lord  would  make  me  an  instrument, 
by  the  present  exercises,  of  promoting  your  spiritual  welfare,  or  warm- 
in*'  your  heart  into  any  raisedness  of  zeal  and  religious  eminency, 
that  bv  your  example  others  maybe  provoked  to  the  emulation  ot  the 
like  virtue  I  shall  have  my  aim  and  the  fruit  of  my  prayers.  By 
this  inscription  the  book  is  become  not  only  mine  but  yours  ;  you  own 
the  truths  to  which  I  have  witnessed,  and  it  will  be  sad  for  our  account 
in  the  day  of  the  Lord,  if,  after  such  a  solemn  profession,  you  or  1 
should  be  found  in  a  carnal  and  unregenerate  condition. 

Good  sir,  make  it  your  work  to  honour  him  that  hath  advanced 
you.  Those  differences  of  high  and  low,  rich  and  poor,  are  only  calcu 
lated  for  the  present  world,  and  cannot  outlive  time.  In  the  grave,  at 
the'  day  of  judgment,  and  in  heaven,  there  are  no  such  distinctions. 
The  grave  taketh  away  all  civil  differences  ;  skulls  wear  no  wreaths 
and  marks  of  honour :  Job  iii.  19,  '  The  small  and  the  great  are 
there,  and  the  servant  is  free  from  his  master.'  So  at  the  day  of 
judgment :  '  I  saw  the  dead,  both  great  and  small,  stand  before  the 
Lord/  Rev.  xx.  12.  None  can  be  exempted  from  trial  at  Christ's  bar. 
When  civil  differences  vanish,  moral  take  place.  The  distinc 
tion  then  is  good  and  bad,  not  great  and  small.  Oh,  sir,  then  you  will 
see  that  there  is  no  birth  like  that  to  be  born  again  of  the  Spirit,  no 
tenure  like  an  interest  in  the  covenant,  no  estate  like  the  inheritance 
of  the  saints  in  light,  no  magistracy  like  that  whereby  we  sit  at 
Christ's  right  hand,  judging  angels  and  men,  1  Cor.  vi.  2,  3.  How 
will  the  faces  of  great  men  gather  blackness,  that  now  flourish  in  the 
pomp  and  splendour  of  an  outward  estate,  but  then  shall  become  the 
scorn  of  God,  and  saints,  and  angels  !  And  those  holy  ones  of  God 
shall  come  forth  and  say,  *  Lo,  this  is  the  man  that  made  not  God 
his  strength,  but  trusted  in  the  abundance  of  his  riches,  and 
strengthened  himself  in  his  wickedness  I '  Ps.  Iii.  7.  Ah !  sir,  wealth 
and  power  are  of  no  use  in  that  day,  unless  it  be  to  aggravate  and 
increase  judgment.  Many  that  are  now  despicable,  so  obscure  that 
they  are  lost  in  the  tale  and  count  of  the  world,  shall  then  be 
taken  into  the  arms  of  Christ ;  he  will  not  be  ashamed  to  confess 
them  man  by  man  before  his  Father,  Luke  xii.  8 — Father,  this  is 
one  of  mine.  Oh  1  it  is  sweet  to  hear  such  an  acknowledgment  out  of 
Christ's  own  mouth.  So  also  in  heaven  there  are  none  poor.  All  the 
vessels  of  glory  are  filled  up.  If  there  be  any  difference  in  the  de 
gree,  the  foundation  of  it  is  laid  in  grace,  not  greatness. 
^  Sir,  you  will  find  in  this  epistle  that  men  of  your  rank  and  qua 
lity  are  liable  to  great  corruptions;2  they  soon  grow  proud,  sensual, 

1  Stoke-Newington. 

2  See  the  notes  on  James  i.  9, 11,  and  ii.  1-7,  and  v.  1-5. 


oppressive,  worldly,  stubborn  against  the  word  :  '  I  went  to  the  great 
men,  but  they  had  altogether  broken  the  yoke/  Jer.  v.  5.  To  a 
spiritual  eye,  the  condition  is  no  way  desirable  but  as  it  giveth  fairer 
advantages  of  public  usefulness  and  a  more  diffusive  charity. 
Greatness  hath  nothing  greater  than  a  heart  to  be  willing,  and  a 
power  to  be  able  to  do  good.1  Then  it  is  a  fair  resemblance  of  that 
perfection  which  is  in  God,  who  differeth  from  man  in  nothing  so 
much  as  the  eternity  of  his  being,  the  infiniteness  of  his  power,  and 
the  unweariedness  of  his  love  and  goodness.2  It  is  the  fond  ambition 
of  man  to  sever  these  things.  We  all  affect  to  be  great,  but  not 
good ;  and  would  be  as  gods,  not  in  holiness,  but  power.  Nothing 
hath  cost  the  creature  dearer  since  the  creation.  It  turned  angels 
into  devils,  and  Adam  out  of  paradise.  In  these  times  we  have  seen 
strange  changes.  God  hath  been  contending  with  the  oaks  and 
cedars,  Amos  ii.  9,  and  staining  all  worldly  glory.  Certainly  there  is 
no  security  in  anything  on  this  side  Christ ;  whatever  storm  cometh, 
you  will  find  his  bosom  the  surest  place  of  retreat.  The  Lord  give 
you  to  lay  up  your  soul  there  by  the  sure  reposal  of  a  lively  and 
active  faith  ! 

Sir,  you  will  bear  with  my  plainness  and  freedom  with  you ;  other 
addresses  would  neither  be  comely  in  me,  nor  pleasing  to  you.  Our 
work  is  not  to  flatter  greatness,  but,  in  the  scripture  sense  (not  in  the 
humour  of  the  age),  to  level  mountains,  Luke  iii.  5.  Now,  sir,  the 
God  and  Father  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  bless  you  with  all  spiritual 
blessings  in  Christ ;  as  also  your  pious  consort,  your  hopeful  buds, 
with  all  the  worthy  relatives  and  branches  of  your  family,  that  the 
name  of  POPHAM  may  yield  forth  a  sweet  and  fresh  perfume  in  the 
churches  of  Christ ;  which  I  desire  to  fix  here,  as  the  prayer  of  him 
who  is,  sir,  yours,  in  all  Christian  observance, 


1  "  Nihil  habet  fortuna  magna  majus  quatn  ut  possit,  et  natura  bona  melius  quam  ut 
velit,  benefacere  quamplurimis." — Tullius,  Orat.  pro  Eege  Deiotaro. 

2  "  Tpta  £<TTIV   £v  oh  diafitpuv  £<ITLV  6  Qe6s,  ai8ioTi)Tt  ^(aijsf  irepiovffly,  dvvdjj.€&sf  KOL!  ^ 
SiaXeliretv  eihroteiV  TOVS  avOpuirovs," — Themistius* 


GOOD  HEADER, — It  is  usual  with  those  that  publish  books,  to  premise 
somewhat  by  way  of  excuse  and  acknowledgment  of  the  unworthiness 
of  what  they  publish  ;  which,  setting  aside  the  modest  sense  that  every 
man  should  have  of  his  own  endeavours,  seemeth  not  to  be  without 
crime  ;  if  it  be  unworthy,  the  excuse  will  not  make  it  better  or  more 
passable ;  for  this  is  to  adventure  upon  a  crime  against  conviction, 
and  (if  we  may  allude  to  a  matter  so  weighty)  is  somewhat  like 
Pilate's  case,  who  washed  his  hands,  and  yet  condemned  Christ. 
Usually  such  professions  are  but  counterfeit;  and  that  praise  which 
men  seem  to  neglect,  or  beat  back  at  the  first  hop,  they  readily  take 
at  next  rebound,  which  certainly  is  a  vain  and  wicked  artifice  in 
divine  matters ;  for  besides  the  hypocrisy,  there  is  a  disparagement 
done  to  the  precious  truths  which  they  publish,  whilst  they  would 
seem  to  weaken  the  esteem  of  them,  that  they  may  the  more  plausibly 
promote  their  own  honour :  the  best  that  can  be  said  is,  that  every 
man  in  public  would  appear  in  a  better  dress  than  common  infirmity 
will  allow ;  and  to  this  work  we  come  not  out  of  choice,  but  constraint. 
For  my  own  part  (though  I  know  apologies  of  this  nature  are  little 
credited),  I  can  freely  profess  that  I  had  no  itch  to  appear  in  public, 
as  conceiving  my  gifts  fitter  for  private  edification  ;  and  being  humbled 
with  the  constant  burthen  of  four  times  a  week  preaching,  what  could 
I  do  ?  And  if  I  had  a  mind  to  divulge  my  labours,  some  will  wonder 
that  I  made  choice  of  this  subject,  which  was  conceived  in  my  very 
youth,  and  without  the  least  aim  of  any  further  publication  than  to 
the  auditory  that  then  attended  upon  it.  But  it  being  an  entire  piece, 
and  _  being  persuaded  by  the  renewed  importunity  of  many  gracious 
ministers  and  Christians  that  it  might  conduce  somewhat  to  public 
benefit,  I  was  willing  to  be  deaf  to  all  considerations  of  my  own  credit 
and  fame.  Wherein  is  that  to  be  accounted  of,  so  one  poor  soul  receive 
comfort  and  profit?  The  Epistle  of  Jude  was  with  this  licensed  to 
the  press.  But  being  wearied  with  this  and  the  constant  returns  of 
my  other  employment,  and  hearing  that  another  learned  brother  1  in- 
tendeth  to  publish  his  elaborate  meditations  on  that  epistle  I  shall 
confine  my  thoughts  to  that  privacy  to  which  I  had  intended  these, 
had  they  not  been  thus  publicly  drawn  forth.  The  matter  herein 

1  Mr  Jenkins. 


delivered,  will,  I  conceive,  be  found  holy  and  useful.  If  any  expression 
should  be  found  that  savoureth  not  of  true  piety,  or  suiteth  not  with 
reverence  to  God,  charity  to  men,  or  zeal  of  good  works,  I  do,  from 
my  soul,  wish  it  expunged,  and  shall  upon  conviction  take  the  next 
occasion  to  retract  it.  I  know  some  are  prejudiced  against  endeavours 
of  this  kind,  as  if  nothing  could  be  said  but  what  hath  been  said 
already.  For  my  part,  I  pretend  to  nothing  novel,  and  though  no  other 
things  can  be  said,  yet  they  may  be  more  explained,  and  with  more 
liveliness  of  phrase  and  expression,  every  truth  receiving  some  savour 
from  the  vessel  through  which  it  passeth ;  and  yet  I  may  speak  it 
without  arrogance,  some  arguments  thou  wilt  find  improved  for  thy 
further  edification ;  and  therefore  I  suppose  (though  there  be  now 
some  glut)  this  book  may  crowd  forth  in  the  throng  of  comments.  I 
confess  I  have  made  use  of  those  that  have  formerly  written  upon  this 
epistle,  and  upon  others'  instigation,  that  the  work  might  be  more 
complete,  more  than  I  at  first  intended ;  and  yet  (I  hope)  I  cannot  be 
said  to  '  boast  in  another  man's  line  of  things  made  ready  to  our 
hand/  2  Cor.  x.  16.  For  thy  direction  in  this  work,  I  do  entreat  thee 
to  compare  the  notes  with  the  exposition,  especially  if  thou  dost  at 
any  time  stick  at  the  genuineness  of  any  point.  Well,  then,  so  often 
repeated,  is  the  usual  note  of  the  use  or  practical  inference.  If  the 
style  seem  too  curt  and  abrupt,  know  that  I  sometimes  reserved  my 
self  for  a  sudden  inculcation  and  enlargement.  For  the  great  contro 
versy  of  justification,  I  have  handled  it  as  largely  as  the  epistle  would 
give  leave,  and  the  state  of  the  auditory  would  bear.  Had  I  been 
aware  of  some  controversies  grown  since  amongst  us,  I  should  have 
said  more  ;  yet,  take  it  altogether,  enough  is  said  as  to  my  sense,  and 
for  vindicating  this  epistle.  If  some  passages  be  again  repeated,  which 
I  suppose  will  seldom  fall  out,  impute  it  to  the  multitude  of  my  em 
ployment.  I  never  saw  the  work  altogether,  and  my  thoughts  being 
scattered  to  so  many  subjects  throughout  the  week,  I  could  not  always 
so  distinctly  remember  what  I  had  written.  In  short,  if  thou  receivest 
any  benefit,  return  me  but  the  relief  of  thy  prayers  for  an  increase  of 
abilities,  and  a  faithful  use  of  them  to  the  Lord's  glory,  and  I  shall  be 
abundantly  recompensed. 






I  INTEND,  by  the  assistance  of  God's  Holy  Spirit,  in  the  weekly  returns 
of  this  lecture,  to  handle  the  Epistle  of  James.     It  is  full  of  useful 
and  practical  matter.     I  have  the  rather  chosen  this  scripture  that  it 
may  be  an  allay  to  those  comforts  which,  in  another  exercise,  I  have 
endeavoured  to  draw  out  of   the   53d  of  Isaiah.     I  would,   at  the 
same  time,  carry   on  the  doctrine  both  of  faith  and  manners,  and 
show  you  your  duties  together  with  your  encouragements,  lest,  with 
Ephraim,  you  should  only  love  to  tread  out  the  corn,  and  refuse  to 
break  the  clods,  Hosea  x.  11.     We  are  all  apt  to  divorce  comfort  from 
duty,  and  to  content  ourselves  with  a  '  barren  and  unfruitful  know 
ledge  '  of  Jesus  Christ,  2  Peter  i.  8 ;  as  if  all  that  he  required  of  the 
world  were  only  a  few  naked,  cold,  and  inactive  apprehensions  of  his 
merit,  and  all  things  were  so  done  for  us,  that  nothing  remained  to 
be  done  by  us.     This  is  the  wretched  conceit  of  many  in  the  present 
age,  and  therefore,  either  they  abuse  the  sweetness  of  grace  to  loose 
ness,  or  the  power  of  it  to  laziness.     Christ's  merit  and  the  Spirit's 
efficacy  are  the  commonplaces  from  whence  they  draw  all  the  defences 
and  excuses  of  their  own  wantonness  and  idleness.     It  is  true  God 
hath  opened  an  excellent  treasure  in  the  church  to  defray  the  debts 
of  humble  sinners,  and  to  bear  the  expenses  of  the  saints  to  heaven  ; 
but  there  is  nothing  allowed  to  wanton  prodigals,  who  spend  freely 
and  sin  lavishly  upon  the  mere  account  of  the  riches  of  grace ;  as  in 
your  charitable  bequests,  when  you  leave  moneys  in  the  way  of  a  stock, 
it  is  to  encourage  men  in  an  honest  calling,  not  to  feed  riot  and  excess. 
Who  ever  left  a  sum  for  drunkards,  or  a  stock  to  be  employed  in 
dicing  and  gaming  ?     Again,  I  confess,  whatever  grace  doth,  it  doth 
freely ;  we  have  '  grace  for  grace,'  1  John  i.  16  ;  that  is,  grace  for 
grace's  sake.     But  there  is  a  difference  between  merit  and  means ; 
a  schoolmaster  may  teach  a  child  gratis,  freely,  and  yet  he  must  take 
pains  to  get  his  learning.     And  there  is  a  difference  between  causality 

1  xapi"  &vrl  xctpiTos,  id  est,  non  pro  ullo  merito,  sed  ex  me  a  bonitate,  quod  alibi  dis- 
tluctius.enunciat  apostolus,  xa/a^/tara  /card  TTJV  X^/H". — Rom.  xii.  6  (Grot,  in  locum). 


and  order.  Mercy  is  never  obtained  but  in  the  use  of  means  ;  wisdom's 
dole  is  dispensed  at  wisdom's  gate,  Prov.  viii.  34.  But  the  use  of 
means  doth  not  oblige  God  to  give  mercy  ;  there  are  conditions  which 
only  show  the  way  of  grace's  working.  Again,  I  grant  that  closing 
with  Christ  is  an  excellent  duty,  and  of  the  highest  importance  in 
religion.  But  in  Christ  there  are  no  dead  and  sapless  branches  ;  faith 
is  not  an  idle  grace  ;  wherever  it  is,  it  fructifieth  in  good  works.  To 
evince  all  this  to  you,  I  have  chosen  to  explain  this  epistle.  The 
apostle  wrote  it  upon  the  same  reason,  to  wit,  to  prevent  or  check 
their  misprisions  who  cried  up  naked  apprehensions  for  faith,  and  a 
barren  profession  for  true  religion.  Such  unrelenting  lumps  of  sin 
and  lust  were  there  even  in  the  primitive  times,  gilded  with  the 
specious  name  of  Christians. 

The  epistle  in  our  translation  beareth  title  thus,  THE  EPISTLE 
GENERAL  OF  JAMES  ;  in  the  Greek,  'la/cwftov  rov  airoa-roXov  eV^o-ToA,?; 
KaOokiK?) — the  Catholic,  or  General  Epistle  of  James  the  Apostle  ; 
for  the  clearing  of  which,  before  I  enter  upon  the  body  of  the  epistle, 
give  me  leave  to  premise  these  questions  : — 

1.  Whether  this  epistle  be  of  divine  authority  ? 

2.  Concerning  the  subordinate  author  or  instrument,  James,  what 

James  this  was  ? 

3.  What  was  the  time  of  writing  it  ? 

4.  The  persons  to  whom  it  was  written. 

5.  What  is  the  occasion,  matter,  and  scope  of  it  ? 

6.  The  reason  of  that  term  in  the  title,  catholic  or  general. 

I.  Concerning  the  divine  authority  of  this  epistle,  I  desire  to  discuss 
it  with  reverence  and  trembling.  It  is  dangerous  to  loosen  foundation 
stones.  I  should  wholly  have  omitted  this  part  of  my  work,  but  that 
the  difference  is  so  famous ;  and  to  conceal  known  adversaries  is  an 
argument  of  fear  and  distrust.  The  Lord  grant  that  the  cure  be  not 
turned  into  a  snare,  and  that  vain  men  may  not  unsettle  themselves 
by  what  is  intended  for  an  establishment  !  That  which  gave  occasion 
to  doubt  of  this  epistle  was  some  passages  in  Jerome  and  Eusebius, 
in  which  they  seem,  at  least  by  reporting  the  sense  of  others,  to  infringe 
the  authority  of  it.  I  shall  give  you  the  passages,  and  then  show  you 
what  little  reason  there  is  why  they  should  jostle  James  out  of  the  canon. 
The  passage  of  Eusebius  runneth  thus  : — Kal  ra  Kara  TOV  ' 
ov  TI  TTpcorrj  rcov  €Tri(rro\a>v  rcov  ovopa&aevwv  Ka6d\iK&v  eivai 
laTeov  &>5  voOeverai  uev'  ov  TroAAot  ryovv  T&V  TraXai  avrfjs  ef 
0)9  ov$e  Trjs  \€<youevr}<;  'JoOSa,  uia<?  Kal  avrfj^  ovcrr)<?  rwv 
KaOo\uca>v  oyLt&)9  8  L(T/ji€v  /cal  ravTa?  aera  TWV  \oiTTWv  ev 
€KK\r)(TLais,  &c.  j1  that  is,  '  And  these  things  concerning  James,  whose 
epistle  that  is  reported  to  be,  which  is  the  first  among  the  epistles 
called  universal ; 2  yet  we  are  to  understand  that  the  same  is  not  void 
of  suspicion,  for  many  of  the  ancients  make  no  mention  thereof,  nor  of 
Jude,  being  also  one  of  the  seven  called  universal ;  yet  notwithstanding 
we  know  them  to  be  publicly  read  in  most  churches  : '  so  far  Eusebius. 
The  other  passage  of  Jerome,  3  is  this : — Jacobus  unam  tantum  scripsit 

1  Euseb.,  lib.  ii.  Hist.  Eccles.,  c.  23. 

2  So  Dr  Hamner  rendereth  that  clause,  lariw  ptv  us 

3  Hieron.  in  Catal.  Eccles.  Script. 


epistolam,  quce  et  ipsa  ab  olio  quodam  sub  ejus  nomine  edita  esse 
asseritur,  licet  paullatim  temper e  procedente  obtinuerit  auctoritatem  ; 
that  is,  'James  wrote  but  one  epistle,  which  is  also  said  to  be  put  forth 
by  another  in  his  name,  though  by  little  and  little  in  process  of  time 
it  gained  authority  in  the  church.'  These  are  the  clauses  which  first 
begat  a  doubt  of  this  epistle,  but  without  reason— these  two  authors 
reporting  the  sense  of  others  rather  than  their  own  ;  and  if  any  part 
of  scripture  should  be  laid  aside  because  some  have  questioned  it,  the 
devil  would  soon  obtain  his  purpose.  One  time  or  another  the  greatest 
part  of  it  hath  been  impeached  by  men  of  a  wicked  and  unsober  wit, 
who,  when  they  could  not  pervert  the  rule  to  gratify  their  purposes, 
reflected  a  scorn  and  contempt  upon  it.  Now  it  would  exceedingly 
furnish  the  triumphs  of  hell  if  we  should  think  their  private  cavils  to  be 
warrant  sufficient  to  weaken  our  faith,  and  besides  disadvantage  the 
church  by  the  loss  of  a  most  considerable  part  of  the  canon  ;  for  the 
case  doth  not  only  concern  this  epistle,  but  divers  others,  as  the  Second 
of  Peter,  the  Second  and  Third  Epistles  of  John,  the  Book  of  the 
Revelation,  the  last  chapter  of  Mark,  *  some  passages  in  the  22d  of 
Luke,2  the  beginning  of  the  8th  of  John,3  some  passages  in  the  5th 
chapter  of  the  First  Epistle  of  John.  Where  would  profaneness  stay  ? 
and,  if  this  liberty  should  be  allowed,  the  flood  of  atheism  stop  its 
course  ?  But,  besides  all  this,  why  should  a  few  private  testimonies 
prejudice  the  general  consent  of  the  church,  which  hath  transmitted 
this  epistle  to  us,  together  with  other  parts  of  the  New  Testament  ? 
For  if  we  go  to  external  testimony,  there  is  no  reason  but  the  greater 
number  should  carry  it.  It  were  easy  to  instance  in  councils  and 
fathers,  who  by  an  unanimous  suffrage  have  commended  this  epistle 
to  the  faith  and  reverence  of  the  church.  Those  canons  which  com 
monly  go  under  the  name  of  the  apostles  4  (though  I  build  not  much 
upon  that  testimony)  decreed  it  to  be  received  for  scripture  ;  so  the 
Council  of  Laodicea,  can.  59  ;  so  of  Mile  vis,  cap.  7 ;  so  the  third 
Council  of  Carthage,  cap.  47  ;  of  Orange,  cap.  25  ;  Concilium  Cabil- 
onense,  cap.  33 ;  of  Toledo,  cap.  3.  So  for  the  consent  of  the  most 
ancient  fathers,  5  by  whom  it  is  quoted  as  scripture,  as  by  Ignatius, 
Epist.  ad  Epliesios,  &c.  You  may  see  Brochmand,  in  Prolog.  Epist! 
Jacob,  and  lodocus  Coccius,  his  '  Thesaurus  Theologicus/  torn,  i.,  lib. 
6,  art.  23 ;  read  also  Dr  Rainold's  '  De  Libris  Apocryphis,'  torn,  i., 
prselect.  4,  &c.  Out  of  all  which  you  may  see  what  authority  it  had 
among  the  ancients.  Of  late,  I  confess,  it  hath  found  harder  measure 
Cajetan  and  Erasmus  show  little  respect  to  it;  Luther  plainly  rejecteth 
it;  and  for  the  incivility  and  rudeness  of  his  expression  in  callino-  it 
stramineam  epistolam,  as  it  cannot  be  denied,  6  so  it  is  not  to  be 
excused.  Luther  himself  seemeth  to  retract  it,  speaking  of  it  else- 

1  See  Hieron.,  Quest.  3,  ad  Hedibium  et  Euthymium. 

2  Sextus  Senensis  Bibl.  sanct.,  lib.  i.  c.  23,  24. 

3  Hieron.  adversus  Pelag.,  lib.  ii. 

4  See  Caranza,  his  Summa  Conciliorum  p  7 

Hilt^r  LimSelf  differenceth  i4  from  those  «»*  are  plainly  spurious-lib,  iii.  Eccles 


where  with  more  reverence  :  EJpistolam  hanc,  quamvis  rejectam  a  veteri- 
bus,  pro  utili  tamen  et  non  contemnenda  habeo,  vet  ob  hanc  causam 
quodnihil  plane  humance  doctrince  offerat,  ut  leg  em  Deifortiterurgeat; 
verum  ut  meam  de  ilia  sententiam  candide  promam  extra  prcejudi- 
cium,  existimo  nullius  esse  apostoli  (Luther  Prsef.  Epist.  Jacob.) ;  that 
is,  '  This  epistle,  though  not  owned  by  many  of  the  ancients,  I  judge  to 
be  full  of  profitable  and  precious  matter,  it  offering  no  doctrine  of  a 
human  invention,  strongly  urging  the  law  of  God;  yet,  in  my  opinion 
(which  I  would  speak  without  prejudice),  it  seemeth  not  to  be  written 
by  any  apostle  ;'  which  was  the  error  and  failing  of  this  holy  and 
eminent  servant  of  God ;  and  therein  he  is  followed  by  others  of  his 
own  profession,  Osiander,  Camerarius,  Bugenhag,  &c.,  and  Althamerus, 
whose  blasphemies  are  recorded  by  Grotius  in  his  '  Eivetian  Apol. 
Discuss./  p.  170,  and  by  him  unworthily  urged  to  reflect  a  scorn  upon 
our  churches.  Concerning  this  Andreas  Althamerus,  see  learned 
Rivet's  reply,  in  his  SidXva-ts  (Grot.  Discuss.,  p.  480).  However, 
Luther  is  herein  deserted  by  the  modern  Lutherans,  who  allow  this 
epistle  in  the  canon,  as  is  plain  by  the  writings  of  Hunnius,  Montrer, 
Gerhard,  Walther,  &c.  Brochmand,  a  learned  Lutheran,  and  Bishop 
of  Zealand,  in  Denmark,  hath  written  a  worthy  comment  upon  this 
epistle,  to  whom  (though  I  received  him  late,  and  when  the  work  was 
in  a  good  progress)  I  have  been  beholden  for  some  help  in  this  exposi 
tion,  especially  in  the  critical  explication  of  some  Greek  words,  and 
most  of  the  quotations  out  of  the  Socinian  pamphlets,  and  for  whom  I 
acknowledge  myself  indebted  to  the  courtesy  of  that  learned  and 
worthy  gentleman,  Colonel  Edward  Leigh,  to  whose  faithfulness  and 
industry  the  church  of  God  oweth  so  much. 

The  reasons  which  moved  Luther  to  reject  this  epistle  shall  be 
answered  in  their  proper  places.  By  his  own  testimony,  cited  before, 
it  containeth  nothing  repugnant  to  other  scriptures,  and  it  savoureth 
of  the  genius  of  the  gospel,  as  well  as  other  writings  of  the  apostles  ; 
and  though  he  seemeth  to  make  little  mention  of  Christ  and  the 
gospel,  yet,  if  you  consider  it  more  thoroughly,  you  will  find  many 
passages  looking  that  way.  The  Epistle  of  Paul  to  Philemon  hath 
been  hitherto  reputed  canonical,  yet  it  treateth  not  of  the  merits  and 
death  of  Christ.  I  confess  the  style  which  the  apostle  useth  is  more 
rousing,  much  of  the  epistle  concerning  the  carnal  Hebrews,  as  well 
as  those  that  had  taken  upon  themselves  the  profession  of  Christ ;  in 
short,  it  hath  a  force  upon  the  conscience,  and  is  not  only  delivered  by 
the  church,  but  sealed  up  to  our  use  and  comfort  by  the  Holy  Ghost, 
as  other  scriptures  are.  It  was  written  by  an  apostle,  as  other  epistles 
taken  into  the  canon,  as  the  inscription  showeth,  and  there  is  no 
reason  why  we  should  doubt  of  this  title,  more  than  of  Paul's  name 
before  his  epistles.  It  is  true  there  were  some  spurious  writings  that 
carried  the  names  of  the  apostles,  as  the  '  Acts  of  Andrew,'  the  '  Liturgy 
of  St  James,'  the  '  Canons  of  the  Apostles,'  '  Luke's  History  of  the  Acts 
of  Paul  and  Tecla,'  «  Mark's  Life  of  Barnabas/  the  '  Gospel  of  Paul ;' 
but  all  these,  by  the  just  hand  of  God,  had  some  mark  of  infamy  im- 

inis,  imprimis  quce  ad  Romanos,  Galatas,  EpJiesios  scriptce  sunt ;  nee  enim  genium  indol- 
emque  habet  evangelicam.  So  in  his  Comment,  on  Genesis,  in  c.  22,  he  saith,  Facessant 
de  media. adversaria,  cum  suo  Jacobo,  quern  toties  nobis  objiciunt. 


pressed  upon  them,  by  the  enforcement  of  matters  false  or  ridiculous, 
or  contrary  to  the  truth  of  doctrine  or  history.  But  this  epistle  hath 
nothing  contrary  to  the  truth  of  religion,  nor  unbeseeming  the  gravity 
of  it,  and  the  majesty  of  other  scriptures  ;  therefore,  upon  the  whole, 
we  may  pronounce  that,  it  being  represented  to  us  with  these  advan 
tages,  it  hath  a  just  title  to  our  respect  and  belief,  and  should  be 
received  in  the  church  with  the  same  esteem  and  reverence  which  we 
bear  to  other  scriptures. 

II.  Secondly,  Concerning  the  subordinate  author,  James,  there  is 
some  controversy  about  stating  the  right  person,  who  he  was.  In  the 
general,  it  is  certain  he  was  an  apostle,  no  epistles  but  theirs  being 
received  into  the  rule  of  faith  ;  and  it  is  no  prejudice  that  he  styleth 
himself  '  the  servant  of  the  Lord/  for  so  doth  Paul  often,  as  we  shall 
prove  anon  in  the  explication  of  the  first  verse.  But  now,  among  the 
apostles  there  were  two  called  by  the  name  of  James  —  James  the  son 
of  Zebedee,  and  James  the  son  of  Alpheus.  Many  of  the  ancients 
indeed  thought  there  were  three  of  this  name  —  Jacobus  major,  or  of 
Zebedee  ;  Jacobus  minor,  or  of  Alpheus  ;  arid  James  the  brother  of 
the  Lord,  called  also  Chobliham,1  or  Oblias,  or  James  the  Just,  whom 
they  thought  not  to  be  an  apostle,  but  Bishop  of  Jerusalem.  Jerome 
calleth  him  decimum  tertium  apostolum,  the  thirteenth  apostle  (in 
Isai.  lib.  v.  cap.  7).  Dorotheas  maketh  him  one  of  the  seventy,  the 
first  in  his  catalogue,  but  without  reason.  For  indeed  there  were 
but  two  Jameses,2  this  N  latter  James  being  the  same  with  him  of 
Alpheus  ;  for  plainly  the  brother  of  the  Lord  is  reckoned  among  the 
apostles,  Gal.  i.  19  ;  and  called  a  pillar,  Gal.  ii.  9  ;  and  he  is  called 
the  ^brother  of  the  Lord,  because  he  was  in  that  family  to  which 
Christ  was  numbered.  Some  suppose  his  mother's  sister's  son,  the  son 
of  Mary  of  Cleophas,  who  was  sister  to  the  Virgin.  Now,  Cleophas  and 
Alpheus  is  all  one,  as  a  learned  author  supposeth,3  though  Junius 
contradicteth  it  (in  Epist.  Judge,  sub  initio)  ;  and  Kabanus  saith,  after 
the  death  of  Alpheus,  she  married  Cleophas.  But  however  it  be,  this 
James  is  the  same,  which  is  enough  for  our  purpose.  Well,  then,  there 
being  two,  to  which  of  these  is  the  epistle  to  be  ascribed  ?  The  whole 
stream  of  antiquity  carrieth  it  for  the  brother  of  the  Lord,  who,  as  I 
said,  is  the  same  with  Jacobus  minor,  or  the  son  of  Alpheus  ;  and 
with  good  reason,  the  son  of  Zebedee  being  long  before  beheaded  by 
Herod,  from  the  very  beginning  of  the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  Acts 
xu.  2.  But  this  epistle  must  needs  be  of  a  later  date,  as  alluding  to 
some  passages  already  written,  and  noting  the  degeneration  of  the 
church  which  was  not  so  very  presently.  There  are  some  few  indeed 
of  another  judgment,  as  Flavius  Dexter,  Julius  Toletanus,  Didacus 
Itozor,  and  others  cited  by  Eusebius  Neirembergius,4  a  Spanish  Jesuit, 
who  also  brmgeth  the  authority  of  an  ancient  Gottish  missal  to  this 

;  by  Epiphanius, 

Eusebius  Neirembe^giu^de^rig^e  sTcra^crip'ture,  lib.  xi.  cap.  15-19, 


purpose,  together  with  reasons  to  prove  this  to  be  the  first  New  Testa 
ment  scripture  that  was  written,  and  all  to  devolve  the  honour  of  the 
epistle  upon  the  Spanish  saint,  Jacohus  major ;  which  yet  is  contrary 
to  the  decree  of  the  Trent  Council,  which  ascribeth  it  to  James  the 
brother  of  the  Lord.  Well,  then,  James  the  Less  is  the  person  whom 
we  have  found  to  be  the  instrument  which  the  Spirit  of  God  made  use 
of  to  convey  this  treasure  to  the  church.  Much  may  be  said  of  him, 
but  I  shall  contract  all  into  a  brief  sum.  He  was  by  his  private 
calling  an  husbandman,1  by  public  office  in  the  church  an  apostle, 
and  especially  called  to  the  inspection  of  the  church  in  and  about 
Jerusalem,  either  because  of  his  eminency  and  near  relation  to  Christ, 
or  for  the  great  esteem  he  had  gained  among  the  Jews ;  and  therefore, 
when  the  other  apostles  were  going  to  and  fro  disseminating  the  word 
of  life,  James  is  often  found  at  Jerusalem.  (See  Gal.  i.  18, 19  ;  Acts  i. 
14,  21  ;  and  xv.  &c.)  For  his  temper,  he  was  of  an  exact  strictness, 
exceeding  just ;  and  therefore  called  Oblias,  and  James  the  Just ;  yea, 
so  just,  that  Josephus  maketh  the  violence  offered  to  him  to  be  one  of 
the  causes  of  the  Jewish  ruin.  (Joseph.  Antiq.,  lib.  xx.  cap.  16.)  Of 
so  great  temperance,  that  he  drank  neither  wine  nor  strong  drink,  and 
ate  no  flesh.  So  pious,  that  his  knees  were  made  like  a  camel's  hoof 
by  frequent  prayer.  His  death  happened  six  years  before  that  of 
Peter,  thirty- eight  years  before  that  of  John,  in  the  sixty-third  year 
of  Christ,  if  chronology  be  true.  He  died  a  martyr ;  they  would  have 
him  persuade  the  people  to  abandon  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  which, 
when  he  refused,  and  pressed  the  quite  contrary,  he  was  thrown  down 
from  a  pinnacle  of  the  temple,  and  his  brains  dashed  out  with  a 
fuller's  club,  and  so  gave  up  the  ghost.  See  these  things  set  forth  at 
large  by  Eusebius,  lib.  ii.  cap.  23,  et  ibi  citatos. 

III.  Thirdly,  For  the  time  when  this  epistle  was  wrritten,  it  cannot 
be  exactly  stated.     It  is  placed  first  among  the  catholic  epistles,  either 
as  first  written,  or  first  received  into  the  canon,  though  in  the  ranking 
of  it  there  be  a  variety.     In  the  Greek  Bibles  it  sustaineth  the  same 
place  which  we  assign  to  it.    Some  think  the  Epistle  of  Peter  was  first 
written ;  but  in  so  great  an  uncertainty  who  can  determine  anything  ? 
Certain  we  are,  that  it  was  written  after  the  heresies  were  somewhat 
grown,  and  before  Jerusalem  drew  to  its  end ;   for  what  St  James 
threateneth,  St  Paul  taketh  notice  of  as  accomplished,  1  Thes.  ii.  16. 
Speaking  of  the  people  of  the  Jews,  he  saith,  '  Wrath  is  come  upon 
them,  et?  TO  reXo?,  to  the  uttermost ;'  which  is  denounced  in  chap.  v.  of 
our  apostle.     The  critical  reader,  that  would  know  more  of  the  time 
and  order  of  this  epistle,  I  refer  to  Eusebius  Neirembergiue,  lib.  xi. 
De  Origine  Sacrse  Scripturge,  cap.  15. 

IV.  Fourthly,  The  persons  to  whom  he  wrote  are  specified  in  the 
first  verse  '  To  the  twelve  tribes/  &c.,  which  we  shall  explain  anon ; 
let  it  suffice  for  the  present,  that  he  writeth  chiefly  to  those  among 
them  that  were  gained  to  the  faith  of  Christ,  though  there  be  many 
passages  interspersed  which  do  concern  the  unbelieving  Jews.     See 
chap.  v.  1,  and  the  reasons  there  alleged  in  the  exposition. 

V.  Fifthly,  For  the  occasion,  matter,  and  scope,  you  may  take  it 

1  Clemens,  lib.  ii.  Constit.  Apostol.,  cap.  63. 


thus :  Certainly  one  great  occasion  was  that  which  Austin 1  taketh 
notice  of,  to  wit,  the  growth  of  that  opinion  in  the  apostles'  days,  that 
a  bare,  naked  faith  was  enough  to  salvation,  though  good  works  were 
neglected.  It  is  clear  that  some  such  thing  was  cried  up  by  the  school 
of  Simon.  Now,  Samaria  being  nigh  to  Jerusalem,  our  apostle,  whose 
inspection  was  mostly  confined  to  those  churches,  might  rather  than 
others  take  notice  of  it.  But  this  concerneth  but  a  part  of  the  epistle  ; 
the  more  general  occasion  was  the  great  degeneration  of  faith  and 
manners,  and  the  growth  of  libertine  doctrines,  as  about  God's  being 
the  author  of  sin,  the  sufficiency  of  empty  faith,  and  naked  profession, 
&c.  When  the  world  was  newly  ploughed  and  sowed  with  the  gospel, 
these  tares  came  up  together  with  the  good  corn.  As  also  to  comfort 
God's  children  against  the  violence  of  the  persecutions  then  exercised 
upon  them,  and  to  awaken  the  men  of  his  own  nation  out  of  their 
stupid  security,  judgments  being  even  at  the  door,  and  they  altogether 
senseless  ;  therefore  the  whole  epistle  is  fraught  with  excellent  in 
structions  how  to  bear  afflictions,  to  hear  the  word,  to  mortify  vile 
affections,  to  bridle  the  tongue,  to  conceive  rightly  of  the  nature  of 
God,  to  adorn  our  profession  with  a  good  conversation,  with  meekness, 
and  peace,  and  charity  ;  finally,  how  to  behave  ourselves  in  the  time  of 
approaching  misery.  All  these,  and  many  other  doctrines,  are  scat 
tered  throughout  the  epistle,  so  that  you  may  see  it  is  exceeding  useful 
for  these  times. 

VI.  Sixthly,  Concerning  the  title  catholic  or  general  epistle,  which 
is  the  title  given  all  the  seven  latter  epistles  ;  I  answer,  in  some  copies 
it  is  KavovL/crj,  canonical ;  but  probably  that  is  an  error.  Why  then 
catholic  ?  Many  reasons  are  given.  (Ecumenius,  and  out  of  him 
Beza,  thinketh  it  is  because  they  were  not  inscribed  to  any  particular 
nation  or  city,  as  Paul's  are  to  Kome,  Corinth,  &c.  But  this  hokleth 
not  in  all,  some  of  John's  being  dedicated  to  private  persons,  to  Gaius 
and  the  Elect  Lady;  and  then  there  must  be  more  than  seven,  that  to 
the  Hebrews  being  directed  to  the  same  persons  to  which  Peter  and 
James  wrote  theirs.  Some  say,  because  they  contain  universal  doctrine, 
or  the  public  treasure  of  the  universal  church ;  but  that  would  seem 
to  derogate  from  the  other  epistles,  and  to  prefer  these  before  them. 
Pareus  thinketh  they  were  merely  called  so  by  an  inconsiderate  cus 
tom  ;  but  most  probably  the  reason  is  to  vindicate  their  authenticity, 
and  to  distinguish  them  from  the  epistles  of  Barnabas,  Ignatius, 
Clemens,  and  Polycarp,  which,  though  ancient,  never  made  up  any 
part  of  the  rule  of  faith,  and  so  not  derogate  from  the  other  epistles,2 
but  to  join  these  to  them.  These  things  premised,  I  come,  by  God's 
assistance,  to  handle  the  epistle  itself. 

'  Excitata  fuit  tempers  apostolorum  opinio,  sufficere  solam  fidem  ad  salutem  obti- 
nendam,  si  vel  maxime  bona  opera  negligerentur,  contra  quam  opinionem  Apostolicse 
Epistolae  Petri,  Johannis,  Jacobi,  Judse,  maxime  dirigunt  intentionem,  ut  vehementer 
adstruant  fidem.  sine  operibus  nihil  prodesse.' — Aug.  Lib.  de  fide  et  Operibus. 

•  '  Ecclesia  vetus  has  epistolas  canonicas  et  catholicas  appellavit,  non  ut  aliis  quidquam 
adimeret,  sed  ut  has  illis  contra  nonuullorum  seuteatias  adjungeret.' — Junius  in  Judam, 
p.  10. 





James,  a  servant  of  God,  and  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  to  the  tivelve 
tribes  which  are  scattered  abroad,  greeting. — JAMES  I.  1. 

JAMES,  there  were  two  of  this  name,  the  son  of  Zebedee,  and  the 
son  of  Alpheus  ;  the  latter  is  the  author  of  this  epistle,  as  in  the  pre 
fatory  discourse  on  the  title  more  fully  appeareth. 

A  servant  of  God. — The  word  SoOXo?  is  sometimes  put  to  imply  an 
abject  and  vile  condition,  as  that  of  a  slave  or  bondman  ;  so  the  apostle 
Paul,  when  he  saith,  Gal.  iii.  28,  '  bond  or  free  are  all  one  in  Christ,' 
for  bond  he  useth  the  word  $ov\os ;  and  this  great  apostle  thinketh 
it  an  honour  to  be  SoOXo?,  the  servant  of  God.  The  lowest  ministry 
and  office  about  God  is  honourable. 

But  why  not  apostle  ?  Grotius  supposeth  the  reason  to  be  because 
neither  James  the  son  of  Zebedee,  nor  James  of  Alpheus,  was  the 
author  of  this  epistle,  but  some  third  James ;  not  an  apostle,  but 
president  of  the  presbytery  at  Jerusalem  ;  but  that  we  have  disproved 
in  the  preface.  I  answer,  therefore  :  He  mentioneth  not  his  apostle- 
ship — 1.  Because  there  was  no  need,  he  being  eminent  in  the  opinion 
and  repute  of  the  churches  ;  therefore  Paul  saith,  he  was  accounted  a 
pillar  and  main  column  of  the  Christian  faith,  Gal.  ii.  9.  Paul, 
whose  apostleship  was  enviously  questioned,  avoucheth  it  often.  2. 
Paul  himself  doth  not  in  every  epistle  call  himself  an  apostle.  Some 
times  his  style  is,  *  Paul,  a  prisoner  of  Jesus  Christ,'  Philem.  1  ; 
sometimes,  '  Paul,  a  servant  of  Christ,'  Phil.  i.  1  ;  sometimes  nothing 
but  his  name  Paul  is  prefixed,  as  in  1  Thes.  i.  1 ,  and  2  Thes.  i.  1. 

It  followeth,  and  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ.  Some  take  both  these 
clauses  in  a  conjoined  sense,  as  applied  to  the  same  person,  and  read 
it  thus :  A  servant  of  Jesus  Christ  who  is  God  and  Lord  ;  as  indeed 
this  was  one  of  the  places  urged  by  the  Greek  fathers  for  the  God 
head  of  Christ  against  the  Arians.  But  our  reading,  which  dis- 
joineth  the  clauses,  is  to  be  preferred,  as  being  least  strained,  and 

1(3  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  1. 

more  suitable  to  the  apostolic  inscriptions ;  neither  is  the  dignity  of 
Christ  hereby  impaired,  he  being  proposed  as  an  object  of  equal 
honour  with  the  Father ;  and  as  the  Father  is  Lord,  as  well  as  Jesus 
Christ,  so  Jesus  Christ  is  God  as  well  as  the  Father.  Well,  then, 
James  is  not  only  God's  servant  by  the  right  of  creation  and  pro 
vidence,  but  Christ's  servant  by  the  right  of  redemption ;  yea,  espe 
cially  deputed  by  Christ  as  Lord,  that  is,  as  mediator  and  head  of  the 
church,  to  do  him  service  in  the  way  of  an  apostle  ;  and  I  suppose 
there  is  some  special  reason  of  this  disjunction,  'a  servant  of  God 
and  of  Christ,'  to  show  his  countrymen  that,  in  serving  Christ,  he 
served  the  God  of  his  fathers,  as  Paul  pleaded,  Acts  xxvi.  6,  7,  that, 
in  standing  for  Christ,  he  did  but  stand  for  *  the  hope  of  the  promise 
made  unto  the  fathers,  unto  which  promise  the  twelve  tribes,  serving 
God  day  and  night,  hope  to  come/ 

It  followeth  in  the  text,  to  the  twelve  tribes;  that  is,  to  the  Jews 
and  people  of  Israel,  chiefly  those  converted  to  the  faith  of  Christ ; 
to  these  James  writeth,  as  the  '  minister  of  the  circumcision/  Gal. 
ii.  9.  And  he  writeth  not  in  Hebrew,  their  own  tongue,  but  in 
Greek,  as  being  the  language  then  most  in  use,  as  the  apostle  Paul 
writeth  to  the  Eomans  in  the  same  tongue,  and  not  in  the  Latin. 

Which  are  scattered  abroad ;  in  the  original,  rat?  ev  ry  Siao-Tropa, 
to  those  which  are  in  or  of  the  dispersion.  But  what  scattering  or 
dispersion  is  here  intended  ?  I  answer,  (1.)  Either  that  which  was 
occasioned  by  their  ancient  captivities,  and  the  frequent  changes  of 
nations,  for  so  there  were  some  Jews  that  still  lived  abroad,  supposed 
to  be  intended  in  that  expression,  John  vii.  35,  *  Will  he  go  to  the 
dispersed  among  the  Gentiles  ?  '  Or  (2.)  More  lately  by  the  persecu 
tion  spoken  of  in  the  8th  of  the  Acts.  Or  (3.)  By  the  hatred  of 
Claudius,  who  commanded  all  the  Jews  to  depart  from  Eome,  Acts 
xviii.  2.  And  it  is  probable  that  the  like  was  done  in  other  great 
cities.  The  Jews,  and  amongst  them  the  Christians,  being  every 
where  cast  out,  as  John  out  of  Ephesos,  and  others  out  of  Alexandria. 
Or  (4.)  Some  voluntary  dispersion,  the  Hebrews  living  here  and  there 
among  the  Gentiles  a  little  before  the  declension  and  ruin  of  their 
state,  some  in  Cilicia,  some  in  Pontus,  &c.  Thus  the  apostle  Peter 
writeth,  1  Peter  i.  1,  '  To  the  strangers  scattered  throughout  Pontus, 
Cappadocia,  Asia,  and  Bithynia/ 

Xalpetv,  greeting. — An  usual  salutation,  but  not  so  frequent  in 
scripture.  Cajetan  thinketh  it  profane  and  paganish,  and  therefore 
questipneth  the  epistle,  but  unworthily.  We  find  the  same  salutation 
sometimes  used  in  holy  writ,  as  to  the  Virgin  Mary,  Luke  i.  28  : 
%atpe  (the  same  word  that  is  used  here),  '  Hail,  thou  that  art  highly 
favoured.^  So  Acts  xv.  23 :  '  The  apostles,  and  elders,  and  brethren, 
send  (xalpew)  greeting  to  the  brethren  which  are  of  the  Gentiles/ 
Usually  it  is  '  grace,  mercy,  and  peace/  but  sometimes  '  greeting/ 

Observations  out  of  this  verse  are  these : — 

^  Obs.  1.  From  that,  James  a  servant  of  God,  he  was  Christ's  near 
kinsman  according  to  the  flesh,  and,  therefore,  by  a  Hebraism  called 
1  The  brother  of  the  Lord/  Gal.  i.  19,  not  properly  and  strictly,  as 
Joseph's  son,  which  yet  was  the  opinion  of  some  of  the  ancients l  by  a 

1  Eusebius  Epiphanius,  Gregory  Nissen,  and  others. 

JAS.  I.  1.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  17 

former  marriage,  but  his  cousin.  Well,  then,  '  James,  the  Lord's 
kinsman,'  calleth  himself  '  the  Lord's  servant : '  the  note  is,  that 
inward  privileges  are  the  best  and  most  honourable,  and  spiritual 
kin  is  to  be  preferred  before  carnal.  Mary  was  happier,  gestando 
Christum  corde  quam  utero — in  having  Christ  in  her  heart  rather 
than  her  womb;  and  James  in  being  Christ's  servant,  than  his 
brother.  Hear  Christ  himself  speaking  to  this  point,  Mat.  xii. 
47-49  :  'When  one  told  him,  Behold,  thy  mother  and  thy  brethren 
stand  without  desiring  to  speak  with  thee/  Christ  answered.  '  Who  is 
my  mother,  and  who  are  my  brethren  ?  And  he  stretched  forth  his 
hand  to  his  disciples,  and  said,  Behold  my  mother  and  my  brethren ; 
for  whosoever  shall  do  the  will  of  my  Father  which  is  in  heaven,  the 
same  is  my  brother,  sister,  and  mother/  The  truest  relation  to 
Christ  is  founded  in  grace,  and  we  are  far  happier  in  receiving  him 
by  faith,  than  in  touching  him  by  blood  ;  and  he  that  endeavours  to 
do  his  will  may  be  as  sure  of  Christ's  love  and  esteem,  as  if  he  were 
linked  to  him  by  the  nearest  outward  relations. 

Obs.  2.  It  is  no  dishonour  to  the  highest  to  be  Christ's  servant. 
James,  whom  Paul  calleth  '  a  pillar/  calleth  himself  '  a  servant  of 
Christ ;'  and  David,  a  king,  saith,  Ps.  Ixxxiv.  10,  '  I  had  rather  be  a 
doorkeeper  in  the  house  of  my  God,  than  dwell  in  the  tents  of 
wickedness/  The  office  of  the  Nethinims,  or  doorkeepers  in  the 
temple,  was  the  lowest ;  and  therefore,  when  the  question  was  pro 
posed  what  they  should  do  with  the  Levites  that  had  warped  from 
God  to  idols,  God  saith,  '  They  shall  bear  their  iniquity ; '  that  is, 
they  shall  be  degraded,  and  employed  in  the  lowest  offices  and  minis 
tries  of  the  temple,  which  was  to  be  porters  and  doorkeepers  (see 
Ezek.  xliv.  10-13)  :  yet  saith  David,  '  I  had  rather  be  a  doorkeeper  ; ' 
carnal  honour  and  greatness  is  nothing  to  this.  Paul  was  '  an  Heb 
rew  of  the  Hebrews/  Phil.  iii.  5  ;  that  is,  of  an  ancient  Hebrew  race 
and  extraction,  there  being,  to  the  memory  of  man,  no  proselyte  in 
his  family  or  among  his  ancestors,  which  was  accounted  a  very 
great  honour  by  that  nation  ;  yet,  saith  Paul,  I  count  all  o-Kvj3a\.a, 
dung  and  dog's  meat,  in  comparison  of  an  interest  in  Christ,  Phil.  iii.  8. 

Obs.  3.  The  highest  in  repute  and  office  in  the  church  yet  are  still 
but  servants:  '  James,  a  servant ; '  2  Cor.  iv.  1,  '  Let  a  man  account 
of  us  as  of  ministers  of  Christ/  The  sin  of  Corinth  was  man-wor 
ship,  in  giving  an  excess  of  honour  and  respect  to  those  teachers 
whom  they  admired,  setting  them  up  as  heads  of  factions,  and  giving 
up  their  faith  to  their  dictates.  The  apostle  seeketh  to  reclaim  them 
from  that  error,  by  showing  that  they  are  not  masters,  but  ministers  : 
give  them  the  honour  of  a  minister  and  steward,  but  not  that 
dependence  which  is  due  to  the  master  only.  See  2  Cor.  i.  24:  'We 
have  not  dominion  over  your  faith,  but  are  helpers  of  your  joy/  We 
are  not  to  prescribe  articles  of  faith,  but  explain  them.  So  the  apostle 
Peter  bids  the  elders  not  to  behave  themselves  as  'lords  over  God's 
heritage/  1  Peter  v.  3  ;  not  to  master  it  over  their  consciences.  Our 
work  is  mere  service,  and  we  can  but  persuade  ;  Christ  must  impose 
upon  the  conscience.  It  is  Christ's  own  advice  to  his  disciples  in 
Mat.  xxiii.  10  :  '  Be  not  ye  called  masters,  for  one  is  your  master,  even 
Christ/  All  the  authority  and  success  of  our'  teaching  is  from  our 

VOL.  IV.  B 


servant  of  Go,  an  o  esus  firw.—n  a  services  we 
r  the  Father,  and  the  Son  also  :  John  v.  23,  '  God  will 
honour  the  Son  as  they  honour  the  Father  ;'  that  is,  God 
oured  and  worshied  only  in  Christ:  John  xiv.  1,  'Ye 

Lord  We  can  prescribe  nothing  as  necessary  to  be  believed  or 
done  which  is  not  according  to  his  will  or  word.  In  short,  we  come 
not  in  our  own  name,  and  must  not  act  with  respect  to  our  own  ends  ; 
we  are  servants. 

Obs  4   A  servant  of  God,  and  of  Jesus  Cfirwt.—In  all  services  we 

must  honour 

have  all  to 

will  be  honoured  and  worshipped 

believe  in  God,  believe  also  in  me.'     Believing  is  the  highest  worship 

and  respect  of  the  creature  ;  you  must  give  it  to  the  Son,  to  the  second 

person  as  mediator,  as  well  as  to  the  Father.     Do  duties  so  as  you 

may  honour  Christ  in  them  ;  and  so— 

First,  Look  for  their  acceptance  in  Christ.  Oh  !  it  would  be  sad  if 
we  were  only  to  look  to  God  the  Father  in  duties.  Adam  hid  himself, 
and  durst  not  come  into  the  presence  of  God,  till  the  promise  of  Christ. 
The  hypocrites  cried,  Isa.  xxxiii.  14,  '  Who  shall  dwell  with  consum 
ing  fire?'  Guilt  can  form  no  other  thought  of  God  by  looking  upon 
him  out  of  Christ  ;  we  can  see  nothing  but  majesty  armed  with  wrath 
and  power.  But  now  it  is  said,  Eph.  iii.  12,  that  '  in  Christ  we  have 
access  with  boldness  and  confidence  ;'  for  in  him  those  attributes, 
which  are  in  themselves  terrible,  become  sweet  and  comfortable  ;  as 
water,  which  is  salt  in  the  ocean,  being  strained  through  the  earth, 
becometh  sweet  in  the  rivers  ;  that  in  God  which,  out  of  Christ,  strik- 
eth  terror  into  the  soul,  in  Christ  begets  a  confidence. 

Secondly,  Look  for  your  assistance  from  him.  You  serve  God  in  Christ  : 
—  [1.]  When  you  serve  God  through  Christ  :  Phil.  iv.  13,  '  I  can  do  all 
things,  through  Christ  that  strengtheneth  me/  When  your  own  hands 
are  in  God's  work,  your  eyes  must  be  to  Christ's  hands  for  support 
in  it  :  Ps.  cxxiii.  2,  '  As  the  eyes  of  servants  look  to  the  hands 
of  their  masters/  &c.  ;  you  must  go  about  God's  work  with  his  own 

[2.]  When  ye  have  an  eye  to  the  concernments  of  Jesus  Christ 
in  all  your  service  of  God,  2  Cor.  v.  15.  We  must  '  live  to  him  that 
died  for  us  ;'  not  only  to  God  in  general,  but  to  him,  to  God  that  died 
for  us.  You  must  see  how  you  advance  his  kingdom,  propagate  his 
truth,  further  the  glory  of  Christ  as  mediator. 

[3.]  When  all  is  done  for  Christ's  sake.  In  Christ  God  hath 
niievf  claim  in  you,  and  ye  are  bought  with  his  blood,  that  ye  may  be 
his  servants.  Under  the  law  the  great  argument  to  obedience  was  God's 
sovereignty  :  Thus  and  thus  ye  shall  do,  '  I  am  the  Lord  ;'  as  in  Lev. 
xix.  37,  and  other  places.  Now  the  argument  is  gratitude,  God's 
love,  God's  love  in  Christ  :  '  The  love  of  Christ  constraineth  us/  2  Cor. 
v.  14.  The  apostle  often  persuades  by  that  motive  —  Be  God's  servants 
for  Christ's  sake. 

Obs.  5.  To  the  twelve  tribes  which  are  scattered  abroad.  —  God 
looks  after  his  afflicted  servants  :  he  moveth  James  to  write  to  the 
scattered  tribes  :  the  care  of  heaven  flourisheth  towards  you  when 
you  wither.  A  man  would  have  thought  these  had  been  driven  away 
from  God's  care,  when  they  had  been  driven  away  from  the  sanctuary. 
Thus  saith  the  Lord,  though  I  have  cast  them  far  off 
among  the  heathen,  and  have  scattered  them  among  the  countries, 

JAS.  I.  1.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES,  19 

yet  will  I  be  to  them  as  a  little  sanctuary  in  the  places  where  they 
come/  Though  they  wanted  the  temple,  yet  God  would  be  a  little 
sanctuary.  He  looks  after  them,  to  watch  their  spirits,  that  he  may 
apply  seasonable  comforts ;  and  to  watch  their  adversaries,  to  prevent 
them  with  seasonable  providences.  He  looketh  after  them  to  watch 
the  seasons  of  deliverance,  '  that  he  may  gather  her  that  was  driven 
out/  Micah  iv.  6,  and  make  up  '  his  jewels/  Mai.  iii.  17,  that  seemed 
to  be  carelessly  scattered  and  lost. 

Obs.  6.  God's  own  people  may  be  dispersed,  and  driven  from  their 
countries  and  habitations.  God  hath  his  outcasts :  he  saith  to  Moab, 
'  Pity  my  outcasts/  Isa.  xvi.  4.  And  the  church  complains,  '  Our  in 
heritance  is  turned  to  strangers/  Lam.  v.  2.  Christ  himself  had  not 
where  to  lay  his  head ;  and  the  apostle  tells  us  of  some  '  of  whom  the 
world  was  not  worthy/  that  '  they  wandered  in  deserts,  and  mountains, 
and  woods,  and  caves/  Mark,  they  -wandered  in  the  woods  (it  is 
Chrysostom's  note),aX\a  K.CLI  eicel  6We?  efavyov — !  the  retirement  and 
privacy  of  the  wilderness  did  not  yield  them  a  quiet  and  safe  abode. 
So  in  Acts  viii.  4,  we  read  of  the  primitive  believers,  that  '  they  were 
scattered  abroad  everywhere/  Many  of  the  children  of  God  in  these 
times  have  been  driven  from  their  dwellings ;  but  you  see  we  have  no 
reason  to  think  the  case  strange. 

Obs.  7.  To  the  twelve  tribes  which  are  scattered  abroad. — There 
was  something  more  in  their  scattering  than  ordinary  :  they  were  a 
people  whom  God  for  a  long  time  had  kept  together  under  the  wings 
of  providence.  That  which  is  notable  in  their  scattering  is  :— 

1.  The  severity  of  God's  justice;  the  twelve  tribes  are  scattered — 
his  own  people.  It  is  ill  resting  on  any  privileges,  when  God's  Israel 
may  be  made  strangers.  Israel  was  all  for  liberty ;  therefore  God 
saith,  '  I  will  feed  them  as  a  lamb  in  a  large  place,'  Hosea  iv.  16.  God 
would  give  them  liberty  and  room  enough.  As  a  lamb  out  of  the  fold 
goeth  up  and  down  bleating  in  the  forest  or  wilderness,  without  com 
fort  and  companion,  in  the  midst  of  wolves  and  the  beasts  of  the  desert — 
liberty  enough,  but  danger  enough  ! — so  God  would  cast  them  out  of 
the  fold,  and  they  should  live  a  Jew  here  and  a  Jew  there,  thinly 
scattered  and  dispersed  throughout  the  countries,  among  a  people 
whose  language  they  understood  not,  and  as  a  lamb  in  the  midst  of 
the  beasts  of  prey.  Oh!  consider  the  severity  of  God's  justice;  cer 
tainly  it  is  a  great  sin  that  maketh  a  loving  father  cast  a  child  out  of 
doors.  Sin  is  always  driving  away  arid  casting  out ;  it  drove  the 
angels  out  of  heaven,  Adam  out  of  paradise,  and  Cain  out  of  the 
church,  Gen.  iv.  12, 16,  and  the  children  of  God  out  of  their  dwellings: 
Jer.  ix.  19,  '  Our  dwellings  have  cast  us  out/  Your  houses  will 
be  weary  of  you  when  you  dishonour  God  in  them,  and  you  will  be 
driven  from  those  comforts  which  you  abuse  to  excess  ;  riot  doth  but 
make  way  for  rapine.  You  shall  see  in  the  6th  of  Amos,  when  they 
were  at  ease  in  Sion,  they  would  prostitute  David's  music  to  their 
sportiveness  and  common  banquets:  Amos  vi.  5,  '  They  invent  to  them 
selves  instruments  of  music  like  David/  But  for  this  God  threateneth 
to  scatter  them,  and  to  remove  them  from  their  houses  of  luxury 
and  pleasure.  And  when  they  were  driven  to  the  land  of  a  stranger, 

x  Chrysostom  in  Heb.  xi. 


they  were  served  in  their  own  kind;  the  Babylonians  would  have 
temple-music  :  Ps.  cxxxvii.  3,  '  Now  let  us  have  one  of  your 
Hebrew  songs:'  nothing  but  a  holy  song  would  serve  their  profane 
sport.  And  so  in  all  such  like  cases,  when  we  are  weary  of  God  in 
our  houses  and  families,  our  houses  are  weary  of  us.  David's  house  was 
out  of  order,  and  then  he  was  forced  to  fly  from  it,  2  Sam.  xv.  Oh  ! 
then,  when  you  walk  in  the  midst  of  your  comforts,  your  stately 
dwellings  and  houses  of  pomp  and  pleasure,  be  not  of  Nebuchadnez 
zar's  spirit,  when  he  walked  in  the  palace  of  Babylon,  and  said,  Dan. 
iv.  30,  'Is  not  this  great  Babel,  which  I  have  built  ? '—pride  grew 
upon  him  by  the  sight  of  his  comforts  ;  not  of  the  spirit  of  those  Jews 
who,  when  they  dwelt  within  ceiled  houses,  cried,  '  The  time  to  build 
the  Lord's  house  is  not  come/  Hag.  i.  1,2.  They  were  well,  and  at 
ease,  and  therefore  neglected  God ;— but  of  David's  spirit,  who,  when 
he  went  into  his  stately  palace,  serious  thoughts  and  purposes  of 
honouring  God  arose  within  his  spirit :  2  Sam.  vii.  2,  '  Shall  I  dwell 
in  a  house  of  cedar,  and  the  ark  of  God  dwell  within  curtains?' 
Observe  the  different  workings  of  their  spirits.  Nebuchadnezzar,  walk 
ing  in  his  palace,  groweth  proud:  '  Is  not  this  great  Babel,  which  I 
have  built  ?  '  The  Jews,  in  their  ceiled  houses,  grow  careless :  '  The 
time  to  build  the  Lord's  house  is  not  come/  David,  in  his  curious 
house  of  cedar,  groweth  religious :  What  have  I  done  for  the  ark  of 
God,  who  hath  done  so  much  for  me?  Well,  then,  honour  God  in 
your  houses,  lest  you  become  the  burdens  of  them,  and  they  spue  you 
out.  The  twelve  tribes  were  scattered. 

2.  The  infallibility  of  his  truth  ;  they  were  punished  '  as  their  con 
gregation  had  heard;'  as  the  prophet  speaketh,  Hosea  vii.  11,  12.     In 
judicial  dispensations,  it  is  good  to  observe  not  only  God's  justice,  but 
God's  truth.     No  calamity  befell  Israel  but  what  was  in  the  letter 
foretold  in  the  books  of  Moses ;  a   man  might  have  written  their 
history  out  of  the  threatenings  of  the  law.     See  Lev.  xxvi.  33  :  '  If 
ye  walk  contrary  unto  me,  I  will  scatter  you  among  the  heathens,  and 
will  draw  a  sword  after  you.'     The  like  is  threatened  in  Deut.  xxviii. 
64  :  '  And  the  Lord  shall  scatter  you  from  one  end  of  the  earth  unto 
another  among  all  the  people/    And  you  see  how  suitable  the  event  was 
to  the  prophecy ;  and  therefore  I  conceive  James  useth  this  expression 
of  '  the  twelve  tribes,'  when  that  distinction  was  antiquated,  and  the 
tribes  much  confounded,  to  show  that  they,  who  were  once  twelve 
flourishing  tribes,  were  now,  by  the  accomplishment  of  that  prophecy, 
sadly  scattered  and  mingled  among  the  nations. 

3.  The  tenderness  of  his  love  to  the  believers  among  them  ;  he  hath 
a  James  for  the  Christians  of  the  scattered  tribes,    In  the  severest 
ways  of  jiis  justice  he  doth  not  forget  his  own,  and  he  hath  special 
consolations  for  them  when  they  lie  under  the  common  judgment. 
When  other  Jews  were  banished,  John,  amongst  the  rest,  was  banished 
out  of  Ephesus  into  Patmos,  a  barren,  miserable  rock  or  island ;  but 
there  he  had  those  high  revelations,  Kev.  i.  9.     Well,  then,  wherever 
you  are,  you  are  near  to  God  ;  he  is  a  God  at  hand,  and  a  God  afar 
off  :^  when  you  lose  your  dwelling,  you  do  not  lose  your  interest  in 
Christ ;  and  you  are  everywhere  at  home,  but  there  where  you  are 
strangers  to  God. 

JAS.  I.  2.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  21 

Yer.  2.  My  brethren,  count  it  all  joy  when  you  fall  into  divers  temp 

My  brethren. — A  usual  compellation  in  the  scriptures,  and  very 
frequent  in  this  epistle,  partly  because  of  the  manner  of  the  Jews,  who 
were  wont  to  call  all  of  their  nation  brethren,  and  partly  because  of 
the  manner  of  the  ancient  Christians,1  who  in  courtesy  used  to  call 
the  men  and  women  of  their  society  and  communion  brothers  and 
sisters ;  partly  out  of  apostolical  kindness,  and  that  the  exhortation 
might  be  seasoned  with  the  more  love  and  good-will. 

Count  it ;  that  is,  though  sense  will  not  find  it  so,  yet  in  spiritual 
judgment  you  must  so  esteem  it. 

All  joy ;  that  is,  matter  of  chief  joy.  Tlacrav,  all  is  thus  used  in 
the  writings  of  the  apostles,  as  in  1  Tim.  i.  15,  Trao-^?  aTroSo^?}?  af^o?, 
'  worthy  of  all  acceptation,'  that  is,  of  chief  acceptation. 

When  ye  fall,  orav  irepiTrearj're. — The  word  signifies  such  troubles 
as  come  upon  us  unawares,  as  sudden  things  do  most  discompose  the 
mind.  But  however,  says  the  apostle,  '  when  ye  fall/  and  are  suddenly 
circumvented,  yet  you  must  look  upon  it  as  a  trial  and  matter  of  great 
joy ;  for  though  it  seemeth  a  chance  to  us,  yet  it  falleth  under  the 
ordination  of  God. 

Divers. — The  Jewish  nation  was  infamous,  and  generally  hated, 
especially  the  Christian  Jews,  who,  besides  the  scorn  of  the  heathen, 
were  exercised  with  sundry  injuries,  rapines,  and  spoils  from  their 
own  brethren,  and  people  of  their  own  nation,  as  appeareth  by  the- 
Epistle  of  Peter,  who  wrote  to  the  same  persons  that  our  apostle  doth  ; 
and  also  speaketh  of  '  divers  or  manifold  temptations/  1  Peter  i.  6. 
And  again  by  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews,  written  also  to  these  dis 
persed  tribes  :  see  Heb.  x.  34,  '  Ye  took  joyfully  the  spoiling  of  your 
goods/  that  is,  by  the  fury  of  the  multitude  and  base  people,  against 
whom  the  Christians  could  have  no  right. 

Temptations. — So  he  calleth  afflictions,  which  to  believers  are  of  that 
use  and  habitude. 

The  observations  are  : — 

Obs.  1.  My  brethren. — Christians  are  linked  to  one  another  in  the 
bond  of  brotherhood.  It  was  an  ancient  use,  as  I  showed  before,  for 
Christians  of  the  same  communion  to  call  one  another  brothers  and 
sisters,  which  gave  occasion  of  scorn  to  the  heathen  then.  Quod  fratres 
nos  vocamus,  infamant,  saith  Tertullian  ;  and  it  is  still  made  matter 
of  reproach  :  what  scoff  more  usual  than  that  of  holy  brethren  ?  If 
we  will  not  keep  up  the  title,  yet  the  affection  which  becomes  the  re 
lation  should  not  cease.  The  term  hinteth  duty  to  all  sorts  of  Chris 
tians  ;  meekness  to  those  that  excel  in  gifts  or  office,  that  they  may 
be  not  stately  and  disdainful  to  the  meanest  in  the  body  of  Christ — it 
is  Christ's  own  argument,  '  Ye  are  brethren/  Mat.  xxiii.  8  :  and  it 
also  suggesteth  love,  and  mutual  amity.  Who  should  love  more  than 
those  that  are  united  in  the  same  head  and  hope  ?  Eodem  sanguine 
Christi  glutinati,  as  Augustine  said  of  himself  and  his  friend  Alipius  ; 
that  is,  cemented  with  the  same  blood  of  Christ.  We  are  all  travel 
ling  homeward,  and  expect  to  meet  in  the  same  heaven  :  it  would  be 

i  See  Tertul.  in  Apol.  cap.  39,  Justin  Mart,  in  fine  Apol.  2,  and  Clement.  Alexand. 
lib.  v.  Stromat. 


sad  that  brethren  should  '  fall  out  by  the  way,'  Gen.  xlv.  24.  It  was 
once  said  Aspice,  ut  se  mutuo  diligunt  Christiani  !—$ee  how  the 
Christians  love  one  another  !  (Tertul.  in  Apol.  cap.  39.)  But  alas ! 
now  we  may  say,  See  how  they  hate  one  another  ! 

Obs.  2.  From  that  count  it,  miseries  are  sweet  or  bitter  according 
as  we  will  reckon  of  them.  Seneca  said,  Levis  est  dolor  si  nihil  opinio 
adjecerit—our  grief  lieth  in  our  own  opinion  and  apprehension  of 
miseries.  Spiritual  things  are  worthy  in  themselves,  other  things 
depend  upon  our  opinion  and  valuation  of  them.  Well,  then,  it  stand- 
eth  us  much  upon  to  make  a  right  judgment ;  therein  lieth  our  misery 
or  comfort ;  things  are  according  as  you  will  count  them.  That  your 
judgments  may  be  rectified  in  point  of  afflictions,  take  these  rules. 

1.  Do  not  judge  by  sense  :  Heb.  xii.  11,  '  No  affliction  for  the  pre 
sent  seemeth  joyous,  but  grievous,'  &c.     Theophylact  observeth,1  that 
in  this  passage  two  words  are  emphatical,  TT/OO?  TO  Trapbv  and  &o/cei,for 
the  present  and  seemeth ;  for  the  present  noteth  the  feeling  and  expe 
rience  of  sense,  and  seemeth  the  apprehension  and  dictate  of  it :  sense 
can  feel  no  joy  in  it,  and  sense  will  suggest  nothing  but  bitterness  and 
sorrow  ;  but  we  are  not  to  go  by  that  count  and  reckoning.     A  Chris 
tian  liveth  above  the  world,  because  he  doth  not  judge  according  to 
the  world.     Paul's  scorn  of  all  sublunary  accidents  arose  from  his 
spiritual  judgment  concerning  them :  Bom.  viii.  18,  '  I  reckon  that 
the  sufferings  of  this  present  world  are  not  worthy  to  be  compared 
with  the  joys  that  shall  be  revealed  in  us/     Sense,  that  is  altogether 
for  present  things,  would  judge  quite  otherwise  ;  but  saith  the  apostle, 
'  I  reckon/  i.e.,  reason  by  another  manner  of  rule  and  account :  so 
Heb.  xi.  26,  it  is  said,  that  '  Moses  esteemed  the  reproach  of  Christ 
better  than  the  treasures  of  Egypt :  '  his  choice,  you  see,  was  founded 
in  his  judgment  and  esteem. 

2.  Judge  by  a  supernatural  light.     Christ's  eye-salve  must  clear 
your  sight,  or  else  you  cannot  make  a  right  judgment :  there  is  no 
proper  and  fit  apprehension  of  things  till  you  get  within  the  veil,  and 
see  by  the  light  of  a  sanctuary  lamp:  1  Cor.  ii.  11,  '  The  things  of 
God  knoweth  no  man,  but  by  the  Spirit  of  God/    He  had  said  before, 
ver.  9,  '  Eye  hath  not  seen,  ear  hath  not  heard/  &c. ;  i.e.,  natural  senses 
do  not  perceive  the  worth  and  price  of  spiritual  privileges  ;  for  I  sup 
pose  the  apostle  speaketh  not  there  of  the  incapacity  of  our  under 
standings  to  conceive  of  heavenly  joys,  but  of  the  unsuitableness  of 
spiritual  objects  to  carnal  senses.     A  man  that  hath  no  other  light 
but  reason  and  nature,  cannot  judge  of  those  things  ;  God's  riddles 
are  only  open  to  those  that  plough  with  God's  heifer  :  and  it  is  by 
God's  Spirit  that  we  come  to  discern  and  esteem  the  things  that  are 
of  God  ;  which  is  the  main  drift  of  the  apostle  in  that  chapter.     So 
David,  Ps.  xxxvi.  9,  '  In  thy  light  we  shall  see  light ; '  that  is,  by  his 
Spirit  we  come  to  discern  the  brightness  of  glory  or  grace,  and  the 
nothingness  of  the  world. 

3.  Judge  by  supernatural  grounds.    Many  times  common  grounds 
may  help  us  to  discern  the  lightness  of  our  grief,  yea,  carnal  grounds  ; 
your  counting  must  be  an  holy  counting.     Those  in  the  prophet  said, 

-  'The  bricks  are  fallen,  but  we  will  build  with  hewn  stones/  Isa.  ix. 

1  Theoph.  in  loc. 


JAS.  I.  2.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  23 

10.  It  is  a  misery,  but  we  know  how  to  remedy  it ;  so  many  despise 
their  troubles  :  we  can  repair  and  make  up  this  loss  again,  or  know 
how  to  deal  well  enough  with  this  misery.  All  this  is  not  '  a  right 
judgment/  but  '  vain  thoughts  ; '  so  the  prophet  calleth  their  carnal 
debates  and  reasonings :  Jer.  iv.  14,  'How  long  shall  vain  thoughts 
lodge  within  thee  ?  '  that  is,  carnal  shifts  and  contrivances,  by  which 
they  despised  the  judgment,  rather  than  improved  it.  True  judging 
and  counting  always  lolloweth  some  spiritual  discourse  and  reasoning, 
and  is  the  result  of  some  principle  of  faith  or  patience ;  as  thus,  it  is  a 
misery,  but  God  will  turn  it  to  our  good.  God's  corrections  are  sharp, 
but  we  have  strong  corruptions  to  be  mortified  ;  we  are  called  to  great 
trials,  but  we  may  reckon  upon  great  hopes,  &c. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  all  joy ;  afflictions  to  God's  people  do  not  only 
minister  occasion  of  patience,  but  great  joy.  The  world  hath  no  reason 
to  think  religion  a  black  and  gloomy  way :  as  the  apostle  saith,  '  The 
weakness  of  Christ  is  stronger  than  the  strength  of  men/  1  Cor.  i.  25  ; 
so  grace's  worst  is  better  than  the  world's  best ;  '  all  joy/  when  in 
divers  trials !  A  Christian  is  a  bird  that  can  sing  in  winter  as  well 
as  in  spring ;  he  can  live  in  the  fire  like  Moses's  bush  ;  burn,  and  not 
be  consumed  ;  nay,  leap  in  the  fire.  The  counsel  of  the  text  is  not  a 
paradox,  fitted  only  for  notion  and  discourse,  or  some  strain  and  reach 
of  fancy ;  but  an  observation,  built  upon  a  common  and  known  expe 
rience:  this  is  the  fashion  and  manner  of  believers,  to  rejoice  in  their 
trials.  Thus  Heb.  x.  34,  '  Ye  took  the  spoiling  of  your  goods  joy 
fully  ; '  in  the  midst  of  rifling  and  plundering,  and  the  incivilities  of 
rude  and  violent  men,  they  were  joyful  and  cheerful.  The  apostle 
goeth  one  step  higher :  2  Cor.  vii.  4,  '  I  am  exceeding  joyful  in  all  our 
tribulation/  Mark  that  virepTrepLora-evo^ai  rfj  %apa,  I  superabound 
or  overflow  in  joy.  Certainly  a  dejected  spirit  liveth  much  beneath  the 
height  of  Christian  privileges  and  principles.  Paul  in  his  worst  estate 
felt  an  exuberancy  of  joy  :  '  I  am  exceeding  joyful ; '  nay,  you  shall  see 
in  another  place  he  went  higher  yet :  Rom.  v.  3,  '  We  glory  in  tribula 
tions/  fcavxco/jLeOa  ;  it  noteth  the  highest  joy — joy  with  a  boasting  and 
exultation  ;  such  a  ravishment  as  cannot  be  compressed.  Certainly  a 
Christian  is  the  world's  wonder,  and  there  is  nothing  in  their  lives  but 
what  men  will  count  strange ;  their  whole  course  is  a  riddle,  which 
the  multitude  understandeth  not,  2  Cor.  vi.  10:  'As  sorrowful,  yet 
always  rejoicing;'  it  is  Paul's  riddle,  and  may  be  every  Christian's 
motto  and  symbol. 

Object.  1.  But  you  will  say,  Doth  not  the  scripture  allow  us  a  sense 
of  our  condition  ?  How  can  we  rejoice  in  that  which  is  evil  ?  Christ's 
soul  was  '  heavy  unto  death.' 

Solut.  I  answer — 1.  Not  barely  in  the  evil  of  them  ;  that  is  so  far 
from  being  a  fruit  of  grace,  that  it  is  against  nature  :  there  is  a 
natural  abhorrency  of  that  which  is  painful,  as  we  see  in  Christ  him 
self  :  John  xii.  27,  '  My  soul  is  troubled ;  what  shall  I  say  ?  Father, 
save  me  from  this  hour/  &c.  As  a  private  person,  Christ  would 
manifest  the  same  affections  that  are  in  us,  though  as  mediator,  he 
freely  chose  death  and  sufferings  ;  the  mere  evil  is  grievous.  Besides, 
in  the  sufferings  of  Christ  there  was  a  concurrence  of  our  guilt  taken 
into  his  own  person  and  of  God's  wrath ;  and  it  is  a  known  rule, 

24  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.   I.  2. 

Ccelestis  ira  quos  premit  miseros  facit,  Jiumana  nullos.  No  adversary 
but  God  can  make  us  miserable  ;  and  it  is  his  wrath  that  putteth  a 
vinegar  and  gall  into  our  sufferings,  not  man's. 

2.  Their  joy  is  from  the  happy  effects,  or  consequents,  or  comforts, 
occasioned  by  their  sufferings.  I  will  name  some. 

[1.1  The  honour  done  to  us  ;  that  we  are  singled  out  to  bear  wit 
ness  to  the  truths  of  Christ:  '  To  you  it  is  given  to  suffer,'  Phil.  i.  29. 
It  is  a  gift  and  an  act  of  free-grace  :  to  be  called  to  such  special  ser 
vice  is  an  act  of  God's  special  favour,  and  so  far  from  being  a  matter 
of  discouragement,  that  it  is  a  ground  of  thanksgiving:  1  Peter 
iv.  16,  'If  any  man  surfer  as  a  Christian,  let  him  glorify  God^in  this 
behalf  :  '  not  accuse  God  by  murmuring  thoughts,  but  glorify  him. 
This  consideration  had  an  influence  upon  the  primitive  saints  and 
martyrs.  It  is  said,  Acts  v.  41,  that  'they  went  away  rejoicing  that 
they  were  counted  worthy  to  suffer  for  Christ  :  '  in  the  original,  on 
/carrj^icodrja-av  aTificurOrjvai,,  that  they  were  honoured  to  be  dishonoured 
for  Christ.  It  is  a  great  dignity  and  honour  put  upon  us  to  be  drawn 
out  before  angels  and  men  as  champions  for  God  and  his  truth  ;  and 
this  will  warrant  our  joy.  So  Christ  himself:  Mat.  v.  12,  'When 
men  say  all  manner  of  evil  against  you  falsely,  and  for  my  name's 
sake,  rejoice  and  be  exceeding  glad/  Luke  hath  it,  '  Rejoice,  and 
leap  for  joy/  Luke  vi.  23  ;  which  noteth  such  exsiliency  of  affection 
as  is  stirred  up  by  some  sudden  and  great  comfort. 

[2.]  The  benefit  the  church  receiveth.  Resolute  defences  gain  upon 
the  world.  The  church  is  like  an  oak,  which  liveth  by  its  own 
wounds,  and  the  more  limbs  are  cut  off,  the  more  new  sprouts.1  Ter- 
tulliansaith,  The  heathen's  cruelty  was  the  great  bait  and  motive  by 
which  men  were  drawn  into  the  Christian  religion  ;  2  and  Austin  3 
reckoneth  up  all  the  methods  of  destruction  by  which  the  heathen 
sought  to  suppress  the  growth  of  Christianity,  but  still  it  grew  the 
more;  they  were  bound,  butchered,  racked,  stoned,  burned,  but  still 
they  were  multiplied.  The  church  was  at  first  founded  in  blood,  and  it 
thriveth  best  when  it  is  moistened  with  blood  ;  founded  in  the  blood 
of  Christ,  and  moistened  or  watered,  as  it  were,  with  the  blood  of  the 
martyrs.  Well,  then,  they  may  rejoice  in  this,  that  religion  is  more 
propagated,  and  that  their  own  death  and  sufferings  do  any  way  con 
tribute  to  the  life  and  nourishing  of  the  church. 

[3.]  Their  own  private  and  particular  comforts.  God  hath  consola 
tions  proper  for  martyrs,  and  his  children  under  trials.4  Let  me 
name  a  few.  Sometimes  it  is  a  greater  presence  of  the  word  :  1  Thes. 
i.  6,  *  Ye  received  the  word  with  much  affliction,  and  joy  in  the 
Holy  Ghost/  Great  affliction  !  but  the  gospel  will  counterpoise  all. 
Usually  it  is  a  clear  evidence  and  sight  of  their  gracious  estate.  The 
sun  shineth  many  times  when  it  raineth  ;  and  they  have  sweet  glimpses 

'  1ef.Lv6y.evov  0dAAei  Kal  rep  viS-ripy  avrdyuvifcTai.'  —  Naz.  in.  Orat. 

2  'Exquisitior  quaeque  crudelitas  vestra  illecebra  est;  magis  sectse,  plures  efficimur,  quo- 
ties  metimur  a  vobis,'  &c.  —  TertuL  in  Apol. 

3  '  Ligabantur,  includebantur,  caedebantur,  torquebantur,  urebantur,  laniabautur,  tru- 
cidabantur  et  tamen  multiplicabantur.'—  Aug.  lib.  xxii.  de  Civit.  Dei,  c.  6. 

4_  Philip,  the  Landgrave  of  Hesse,  being  asked  how  he  could  endure  his  long  and 
tedious  imprisonment,  '  Professus  est  se  divinas  martyrum  consolationes  semisse.'  — 

JAS.  I.  2.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  25 

of  God's  favour  when  their  outward  condition  is  most  gloomy  and  sad  : 
'When  men  revile  you,  and  persecute  you,  rejoice,  for  yours  is  the 
kingdom  of  heaven/  Mat.  v.  10.  God  cleareth  up  their  right  and 
interest — yours.  So  also  distinct  hopes  and  thoughts  of  glory.  Mar 
tyrs,  in  the  act  of  suffering  and  troubles,  have  not  only  a  sight  of 
their  interest,  but  a  sight  of  the  glory  of  their  interest.  There  are 
some  thoughts  stirred  up  in  them  which  come  near  to  an  ecstasy,  a 
happy  pre-union  of  their  souls  and  their  blessedness,  and  such  a  fore- 
enjoyment  of  heaven  as  giveth  them  a  kind  of  dedolency  in  the  midst 
of  their  trials  and  sufferings.  Their  minds  are  so  wholly  swallowed 
up  with  the  things  that  are  not  seen,  that  they  have  little  thought  or 
sense  of  the  things  that  are  seen  ;  as  the  apostle  seemeth  to  intimate, 
2  Cor.  iv.  18.  Again,  they  rejoice  because  of  their  speedy  and  swifter 
passage  into  glory.  The  enemies  do  them  a  courtesy  to  rid  them  out 
of  a  troublesome  world.  This  made  the  ancient  Christians  to  rejoice 
more  when  they  were  condemned  than  absolved  j1  to  kiss  the  stake,  and 
thank  the  executioner,  because  of  their  earnest  desires  to  be  with  Christ. 
So  Justin  Martyr  (Apol.  1,  adversus  Gentes),  Gratias  agimus  quod 
a  molestis  dominis  liber emur — we  thank  you  for  delivering  us  from 
hard  taskmasters,  that  we  may  more  sweetly  enjoy  the  bosom  of 
Jesus  Christ. 

Object.  2.  But  some  will  say,  My  sufferings  are  not  akin  to  martyrdom ; 
they  come  not  from  the  hand  of  men,  but  providence,  and  are  for  my 
own  sins,  not  for  Christ. 

Solut.  I  answer — It  is  true  there  is  a  difference  between  afflictions 
from  the  hand  of  God,  and  persecutions  from  the  violence  of  men. 
God's  hand  is  just,  and  guilt  will  make  the  soul  less  cheerful ;  but 
remember  the  apostle's  word  is  divers  trials  ;  and  sickness,  death  of 
friends,  and  such  things  as  come  from  an  immediate  providence,  are 
but  trials  to  the  children  of  God.  In  these  afflictions  there  is  required 
not  only  mourning  and  humbling,  but  a  holy  courage  and  confi 
dence  :  Job  v.  22,  '  At  destruction  and  famine  shalt  thou  laugh/ 
There  is  a  holy  greatness  of  mind,  and  a  joy  that  becometh  the  sad 
dest  providences.  Faith  should  be  above  all  that  befalleth  us ;  it  is 
its  proper  work  to  make  a  believer  triumph  over  every  temporary  acci 
dent.  In  ordinary  crosses  there  are  many  reasons  of  laughing  and 
joy  ;  as  the  fellow-feeling  of  Christ ;  if  you  do  not  suffer  for  Christ, 
Christ  suffereth  in  you,  and  with  you.  He  is  afflicted  and  touched 
with  a  sense  of  your  afflictions.  It  is  an  error  in  believers  to  think 
that  Christ  is  altogether  unconcerned  in  their  sorrows,  unless  they  be 
endured  for  his  name's  sake,  and  that  the  comforts  of  the  gospel  are 
only  applicable  to  martyrdom.  Again,  another  ground  of  joy  in  ordi 
nary  crosses  is,  because  in  them  we  may  have  much  experience  of  grace, 
of  the  love  of  God,  and  our  own  sincerity  and  patience  ;  and  that  is 
ground  of  rejoicing:  Eom.  v.  3,  'We  rejoice  in  tribulation,  knowing 
that  tribulation  worketh  patience,  and  patience  experience.'  The  rule 
holdeth  good  in  all  kinds  of  tribulations  or  sufferings ;  they  occasion 
sweet  discoveries  of  God,  and  so  are  matter  of  joy.  See  also  2  Cor. 
xii.  9,  10,  '  I  glory  in  infirmities,'  and  '  take  pleasure  in  infirmities, 
that  the  power  of  Christ  may  rest  upon  me.'  They  are  happy  occa- 

1  '  Magis  damnati  quatn  absoluti  gaudernus.' — Tertul.  in  Apol. 


sions  to  discover  more  of  God  to  us,  to  give  us  a  greater  sense  and 
feelino-  of  the  power  of  grace ;  and  so  we  may  take  pleasure  m  them. 
Lastly,  all  evils  are  alike  to  faith ;  and  it  would  as  much  misbecome 
a  Christian  hope  to  be  dejected  with  losses,  as  with  violence  or  per 
secution.  You  should  walk  so  that  the  world  may  know  you  can  live 
above  every  condition,  and  that  all  evils  are  much  beneath  your  hopes. 
Well,  then,  from  all  that  hath  been  said  we  see  that  we  should  with 
the  same  cheerfulness  suffer  the  will  of  Christ  as  we  should  suffer 
for  the  name  of  Christ. 

Obs.  4.  From  that,  ivhen  ye  fall,  observe  that  evils  are  the  better  borne 
when  they  are  undeserved  and  involuntary  ;  that  is,  when  we  fall  into 
them,  rather  than  draw  them  upon  ourselves.  It  was  Tertullian's 
error  to  say  that  afflictions  were  to  be  sought  arid  desired.  The  crea 
ture  never  knoweth  when  it  is  well ;  sometimes  we  question  God's 
love,  because  we  have  no  afflictions,  and  anon,  because  we  have  no 
thing  but  afflictions.  In  all  these  things  we  must  refer  ourselves  to 
God's  pleasure,  not  desire  troubles,  but  bear  them  when  he  layeth 
them  on  us.  Christ  hath  taught  us  to  pray,  '  Lead  us  not  into  tempta 
tion;  '  it  is  but  a  fond  presumption  to  cast  ourselves  upon  it.  Philas- 
trius  speaketh  of  some  that  would  compel  men  to  kill  them  out  of  an 
affectation  of  martyrdom  ;  and  so  doth  Theodorct.1  This  was  a  mad 
ambition,  not  a  true  zeal ;  and  no  less  fond  are  they  that  seek  out 
crosses  and  troubles  in  the  world,  rather  than  wait  for  them,  or  by 
their  own  violences  and  miscarriages  draw  just  hatred  upon  them 
selves.  Peter's  rule  is:  'Let  none  of  you  suffer  as  an  evil-doer,'  1 
Peter  iv.  15.  We  lose  the  comfort  of  our  sufferings  when  there  is 
guilt  in  them. 

Obs.  5.  From  that  divers,  God  hath  several  ways  wherewith  to  exercise 
his  people.  Divers  miseries  come  one  in  the  neck  of  another,  as  the 
lunatic  in  the  gospel '  fell  sometimes  in  the  water,  sometimes  in  the  fire ;' 
so  God  changeth  the  dispensation,  sometimes  in  this  trouble,  sometimes 
in  that.  Paul  gives  a  catalogue  of  his  dangers  and  sufferings  :  2  Cor. 
xi.  24-28,  '  In  perils  of  waters,  in  perils  of  robbers,  in  perils  by  mine 
own  countrymen,  in  perils  by  the  heathen,  in  perils  in  the  wilderness, 
in  perils  in  the  city,  in  perils  in  the  sea,  in  perils  among  false  brethren.' 
Crosses  seldom  come  single.  When  God  beginneth  once  to  try, 
he  useth  divers  ways  of  trial ;  and  indeed  there  is  great  reason. 
Divers  diseases  must  have  divers  remedies.  Pride,  envy,  coveteous- 
ness,  worldliness,  wantonness,  ambition,  are  not  all  cured  by  the  same 
physic.  Such  an  affliction  pricks  the  bladder  of  pride,  another  checks 
our  desires,  that  are  apt  to  run  out  in  the  way  of  the  world,  &c.  Do 
not  murmur,  then,  if  miseries  come  upon  you,  like  waves,  in  a  continual 
succession.  Job's  messengers  came  thick  and  close  one  after  another, 
to  tell  of  oxen,  and  house,  and  camels,  and  sons,  and  daughters,  and 
all  destroyed,  Job  i.  ;  messenger  upon  messenger,  and  still  with  a 
sadder  story.  We  have  '  divers  lusts,'  Titus  iii.  3,  and,  therefore,  have 
need  of  '  divers  trials/  In  the  6th  of  the  Kevelations  one  horse  cometh 
after  another — the  white,  the  pale,  the  black,  the  red.  When  the 
sluice  is  once  opened,  several  judgments  succeed  in  order.  In  the 
4th  of  Amos,  the  prophet  speaks  of  blasting,  and  mildew,  and  clean- 

1  Theod.  lib.  iv.  Hseret.  Fabul. 

JAS.  I.  3.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  27 

ness  of  teeth,  pestilence,  and  war;  all  these  judgments  one  after 
another.  So  Christ  threatens  Jerusalem  with  '  wars  and  rumours  of 
wars  ; '  and  addeth :  '  There  shall  be  famine,  and  pestilences,  and 
earthquakes  in  divers  places,'  Mat.  xxiv.  7.  Oh !  then,  '  Stand  in 
awe,  and  sin  not,'  Ps.  iv.  When  the  first  hrunt  is  over,  you  cannot 
say,  'the  bitterness  ot  death  is  past;'  other  judgments  will  have 
their  course  and  turn.  And  learn,  too,  from  hence,  that  God  hath 
several  methods  of  trial — confiscation,  banishment,  poverty,  infamy, 
reproach ;  some  trials  search  us  more  than  others.  We  must  leave 
it  to  his  wisdom  to  make  choice.  Will-suffering  is  as  bad  as  will- 

Obs.  6.  From  that  word  temptations,  observe,  that  the  afflictions  of 
God's  people  are  but  trials.  He  calleth  them  not  afflictions  or  perse 
cutions,  but  '  temptations,'  from  the  end  for  which  God  sendeth  them. 
The  same  word  is  elsewhere  used:  2  Peter  ii.  9,  '  God  knoweth  how 
to  deliver  the  godly  out  of  temptation.'  Now  affliction  is  called 
temptation,  not  in  the  vulgar  sense,  as  temptation  is  put  for  an  occa 
sion  or  inducement  to  sin,  but  in  its  proper  and  native  signification, 
as  it  is  taken  for  trial  and  experience  ;  and  so  we  have  it  positively 
asserted  that  this  is  the  end  of  God  :  Dent.  viii.  16,  '  He  fed  thee  with 
manna  in  the  wilderness,  to  humble  thee  and  prove  thee,  and  do  thee 
good  at  the  latter  end.'  The  afflictions  of  the  saints  are  not  judg 
ments,  but  corrections  or  trials — God's  discipline  to  mortify  sin,  or  his 
means  to  discover  grace  ;  to  prove  our  faith,  love,  patience,  sincerity, 
constancy,  &c.  Well,  then,  behave  thyself  as  one  under  trial.  Let 
nothing  be  discovered  in  thee  but  what  is  good  and  gracious.  Men 
will  do  their  best  at  their  trial ;  oh !  watch  over  yourselves  with  the 
more  care  that  no  impatience,  vanity,  murmuring,  or  worldliness  of 
spirit  may  appear  in  you. 

Yer.  3.  Knowing  this,  that  the  trial  of  your  faith  loorketh  pa 

Here  is  the  first  argument  to  press  them  to  joy  in  afflictions,  taken 
partly  from  the  nature,  partly  from  the  effect  of  them.  The  nature 
of  them — they  are  a  '  trial  of  faith  ; '  the  effect  or  fruit  of  them — they 
beget  or  'work  patience.'  Let  us  a  little  examine  the  words. 

Knowing. — It  either  implieth  that  they  ought  to  know,  as  Paul  saith 
elsewhere :  1  Thes.  iv.  13,  '  I  would  not  have  you  ignorant,  brethren, 
concerning  them  that  are  asleep  in  the  Lord/  &c.  So  some  suppose 
James  speaketh  as  exhorting:  Knowing,  that  is,  I  would  have  you 
know  ;  or  else  it  is  a  report ;  knowing,  that  is,  ye  do  know,  being  taught 
by  the  Spirit  and  experience ;  or  rather,  lastly,  it  is  a  direction,  in 
which  the  apostle  acquainteth  them  with  the  way  how  the  Spirit 
settleth  a  joy  in  the  hearts  of  persecuted  Christians,  by  a  lively  know 
ledge,  or  spiritual  discourse,  by  acting  their  thoughts  upon  the 
nature  and  quality  of  their  troubles ;  and  so  knowing  is  distinctly  con 

That  the  trial  of  your  faith. — Here  is  a  new  word  used  for  afflic 
tions  ;  before  it  was  ireipaa-^ol^,  temptations,  which  is  more  general. 
Here  it  is  So/cifj,iov,  trial,  which  noteth  such  a  trial  as  tendeth  to 
approbation.  But  here  ariseth  a  doubt,  because  of  the  seeming  con 
tradiction  between  Paul  and  James.  Paul  saith,  Eom.  v.  4,  that 


patience  worketh  SOKI^V,  trial  or  experience ;  and  James  seemeth 
to  invert  the  order,  saying,  that  SOKI/JLIOV,  '  trial  or  experience  worketh 
patience/  But  I  answer — (1.)  There  is  a  difference  between  the 
words :  there  it  is  So/cijjir) ;  here,  SOKI/J.IOV  ;  and  so  fitly  rendered  there 
experience — here,  trial.  (2.)  There  Paul  speaketh  of  the  effect  of  suf 
fering,  experience  of  God's  help,  and  the  comforts  of  his  Spirit,  which 
work  patience ;  here,  of  the  suffering  itself,  which,  from  its  use  and 
ordination  to  believers,  he  calleth  trial,  because  by  it  our  faith  and 
other  graces  are  approved  and  tried. 

Of  your  faith;  that  is,  either  of  your  constancy  in  the  profession  of 
the  faith,  or  else  of  faith  the  grace,  which  is  the  chief  tiling  exercised 
and  approved  in  affliction. 

Worketh  patience. — The  original  word  is  Karepyd&Tcu,  perfecteth 
patience.  But  this  is  a  new  paradox — how  affliction  or  trial,  which  is 
the  cause  of  all  murmuring  or  impatience,  should  work  patience  ! 

I  answer — (1.)  Some  expound  the  proposition  of  a  natural  patience, 
which,  indeed,  is  caused  by  the  mere  affliction ;  when  we  are  used  to 
them,  they  are  the  less  grievous.  Passions  being  blunted  by  conti 
nual  exercise,  grief  becometh  a  delight.  But  I  suppose  this  is  not  in 
the  aim  of  the  apostle  ;  this  is  a  stupidity,  not  a  patience.  (2.)  Then, 
I  suppose  the  meaning  is,  that  our  trials  minister  matter  and  occa 
sion  for  patience.  (3.)  God's  blessing  must  not  be  excluded.  The  work 
of  the  efficient  is  often  given  to  the  material  cause,  and  trial  is  said  to 
do  that  which  God  doth.  By  trial  he  sanctifieth  afflictions  to  us,  and 
then  they  are  a  means  to  beget  patience.  (4.)  We  must  not  forget  the 
distinction  between  punishment  and  trial.  The  fruit  of  punishment 
is  despair  and  murmuring,  but  of  trial,  patience  and  sweet  submis 
sion.  To  the  wicked  every  condition  is  a  snare.  They  are  corrupted 
by  prosperity,  and  dejected  by  adversity ;  *  but  to  the  godly  every 
estate  is  a  blessing.  Their  prosperity  worketh  thanksgiving,  their 
adversity  patience.  Pharaoh  and  Joram  grew  the  more  mad  for  their 
afflictions,  but  the  people  of  God  the  more  patient.  The  same  fire  that 
purgeth  the  corn  bruiseth  the  stalk  or  reed,  and  in  that  fire  in  which 
the  chaff  is  burnt  gold  sparkleth.2  So  true  is  that  of  the  psalmist : 
Ps.  xi.  5,  '  The  Lord  trieth  the  righteous;  but  the  wicked,  and  him  that 
loveth  violence,  his  soul  hateth/  Well,  then,  the  sum  of  all  is,  that 
afflictions  serve  to  examine  and  prove  our  faith,  and,  by  the  blessing  of 
God,  to  bring  forth  the  fruit  of  patience,  as  the  quiet  fruit  of  right 
eousness  is  ascribed  to  the  rod,  Heb.  xii.  11,  which  is  indeed  the 
proper  work  of  the  Spirit.  He  saith,  '  The  chastening  yieldeth  the 
peaceable  fruit  of  righteousness  to  them  that  are  exercised  thereby  ; '  as 
our  apostle  saith,  '  The  trial  worketh  patience/ 

The  notes  are  these : — 

Obs.  1.  From  that  knowing,  ignorance  is  the  cause  of  sorrow. 
When  we  do  not  rightly  discern  of  evils,  we  grieve  for  them.  Our 
strength,  as  men,  lieth  in  reason  ;  as  Christians,  in  spiritual  discourse. 
Paul  was  instructed,  Phil.  iv.  11,  and  that  made  him  walk  with  such 
an  equal  mind  in  unequal  conditions.  Solomon  saith,  Prov.  xxiv.  5, 

'  Eum  nulla  adversitas  dejicit,  quern  nulla  prosperitas  corrumpit.' — Greg.  Mor. 
'  '  Ignis  non  est  diversus  et  diversa  agit ;  paleam  in  cineres  vertit ;  auro  sordes  tollit.' 
— Aug.  in  Ps.  xxxi. 

JAS.  I.  3.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  29 

*  A  wise  man  is  strong,  yea,  a  man  of  knowledge  increase  th  strength  ;' 
and  he  saith  afterwards,  ver.  10,  'If  thou  faintest  in  affliction,  thy 
strength  is  but  small  ;  '  that  is,  thou  hast  but  little  prudence  or  know 
ledge.  There  lieth  the  weakness  of  our  spirits.  Children  are  scared  with 
every  trifle.  Did  we  know  what  God  is,  and  whereto  his  dealings  tend, 
we  should  not  faint.  Well,  then,  labour  for  a  right  discerning.  To  help 
you,  consider  :  —  (1.)  General  knowledge  will  not  serve  the  turn.  The 
heathens  had  TO  (yvwa-rov,  excellent  notions  concerning  God  in  the  gene 
ral,  Rom  i.  19  ;  but  they  were  'vain  in  their  imaginations/  ver.  21  — 
ev  rot?  SiaXoyia-fiois,  in  their  practical  inferences,  when  they  were 

to  bring  down  their  knowledge  to  particular  cases  and  experiences. 
They  had  a  great  deal  of  knowledge  in  general  truths,  but  no  prudence 
to  apply  them  to  particular  exigences  and  cases.  Many  can  discourse 
well  in  the  general  ;  as  Seneca,  when  he  had  the  rich  gardens,  could 
persuade  to  patience,  but  fainted  when  himself  came  to  suffer.1  So 
Eliphaz  charge  th  it  upon  Job,  that  he  was  able  to  instruct  and  strengthen 
others,  '  But  now  it  is  come  upon  thee,  and  thou  faintest  ;  it  toucheth 
thee,  and  thou  art  troubled,'  Job  iv.  45.  Therefore  it  must  not  only  be 
a  knowledge,  but  a  prudence  to  make  application  of  general  truths,  that 
in  particular  cases  we  may  not  be  disturbed  and  discomposed.  (2.)  Our 
knowledge  must  be  drawn  out  in  actual  thoughts  and  spiritual  dis 
course.  This  bringeth  in  seasonable  succour  and  relief  to  the  soul, 
and  therein  lieth  our  strength.  Observe  it,  and  you  shall  always  find 
that  the  Spirit  worketh  by  seasonable  thoughts.  Christ  had  taught  the 
apostles  a  great  many  comforts,  and  then  he  promiseth,  John  xiv. 
26,  '  The  Comforter  shall  come  ;  KOI  dva/Avijcrci,,  and  he  shall  bring  all 
things  to  your  remembrance  which  I  shall  say  to  you/  That  is  the 
proper  office  of  the  Comforter,  to  come  in  with  powerful  and  season 
able  thoughts  to  the  relief  of  the  soul.  The  apostle  ascribeth  their 
fainting  to  '  forgetting  the  consolation,'  Heb.  xii.  5.  Nay,  observe  it 
generally  throughout  the  word  —  our  strength  in  duties  or  afflictions 
is  made  to  lie  in  our  distinct  and  actual  thoughts.  Would  we  mor 
tify  corruptions  ?  It  is  done  by  a  present  acting  of  the  thoughts,  or 
by  spiritual  discourse  ;  therefore  the  apostle  saith,  Rom.  vi.  6,  '  Know 
ing  this,  that  our  old  man  is  crucified  with  him  ;  '  so  would  we  bear 
afflictions  cheerfully.  See  Heb.  x.  34,  *  Ye  took  it  joyfully,  knowing 
that  you  have  a  better  and  more  enduring  substance  ;  '  and  Rom.  v. 
3,  '  Knowing  that  tribulation  worketh  experience.'  And  so  in  many 
other  places  of  scripture  we  find  that  the  Spirit  helpeth  us  by  awaken 
ing  and  stirring  up  proper  thoughts  and  discourses  in  the  mind.  (3.) 
Those  thoughts  which  usually  beget  patience  are  such  as  these  :  —  (1st.) 
That  evils  do  not  come  by  chance,  or  the  mere  fury  of  instruments, 
but  from  God.  So  holy  Job  :  '  The  arrows  of  the  Almighty  are  with 
in  me,'  Job  vi.  4.  Mark,  '  the  arrows  of  the  Almighty/  though  Satan 
had  a  great  hand  in  them,  as  you  may  see,  Job  ii.  7  —  God's  arrows, 
though  shot  out  of  Satan's  bow.  And  then,  (2d.)  That  where  we  see 
anything  of  God,  we  owe  nothing  but  reverence  and  submission  ;  for 
he  is  too  strong  to  be  resisted,  too  just  to  be  questioned,  and  too  good 
to  be  suspected.  But  more  of  this  in  the  fifth  chapter. 

Obs.  2.  From  that  Sofcifjuov,  the  trial,  the  use  and  ordination  of 
1  '  Senecse  preedivitis  hortos.'  —  Juvenal. 


persecution  to  the  people  of  God  is  trial.  God  maketh  use  of  the  worst 
instruments,  as  fine  gold  is  cast  into  the  fire,  the  most  devouring  ele 
ment.  Innocency  is  best  tried  by  iniquity.1  But  why  doth  God  try 
us  ?  Not  for  his  own  sake,  for  he  is  omniscient ;  but  either— (1.)  For 
our  sakes,  that  we  may  know  ourselves.  In  trials  we  discern  the  sin 
cerity  of  grace,  and  the  weakness  and  liveliness  of  it ;  and  so  are  less 
strangers  to  our  own  hearts.  Sincerity  is  discovered.  A  gilded  pot 
sherd  may  shine  till  it  cometh  to  scouring.  In  trying  times  God 
heateth  the  furnace  so  hot,  that  dross  is  quite  wasted  ;  every  interest 
is  crossed,  and  then  hirelings  become  changelings.  Therefore,  that 
we  may  know  our  sincerity,  God  useth  severe  ways  of  trial.  Sometimes 
we  discover  our  own  weakness,  Mat.  xiii.  ;  we  find  that  faith  weak  in 
danger  which  we  thought  to  be  strong  out  of  danger  ;  as  the  blade  in  the 
stony  ground  was  green,  and  made  a  fair  show  till  the  height  of  sum 
mer.  Peter  thought  his  faith  impregnable,  till  the  sad  trial  in  the 
high  priest's  hall,  Mat.  xxvi.  69.  In  pinching  weather  weak  persons 
feel  the  aches  and  bruises  of  their  joints.  Sometimes  we  discern  the 
liveliness  of  grace.  Stars  shine  in  the  night  that  lie  hid  in  the  day.  It 
is  said,  Eev.  xiii.  10,  '  Here  is  the  patience  and  faith  of  the  saints ; ' 
that  is,  the  time  when  these  graces  are  exercised,  and  discovered  in 
their  height  and  glory.  Spices  are  most  fragrant  when  burnt  and 
bruised,  so  have  saving  graces  their  chiefest  fragrancy  in  hard  times. 
The  pillar  that  conducted  the  Israelites  appeared  as  a  cloud  by  day, 
but  as  a  fire  by  night.  The  excellency  of  faith  is  beclouded  till  it  be 
put  upon  a  thorough  trial.  Thus  for  ourselves,  that  we  may  know 
either  the  sincerity,  or  the  weakness,  or  the  liveliness  of  the  grace  that 
is  wrought  in  us.  (2.)  Or  for  the  world's  sake.  And  so,  (1st.)  for  the 
present  to  convince  them  by  our  constancy,  that  they  may  be  con 
firmed  in  the  faith,  if  weak  and  staggering,  or  converted,  if  altogether 
uncalled.  It  was  a  notable  saying  of  Luther,  Ecclesia  totum  mun- 
dum  convertit  sanguine  et  oratione — the  church  converteth  the  wrhole 
world  by  blood  and  prayer.  We  are  proved,  and  religion  is  proved, 
when  we  are  called  to  sufferings.  Paul's  bonds  made  for  the  fur 
therance  of  the  gospel :  Phil.  i.  12,  13,  '  Many  of  the  brethren 
waxed  confident  in  my  bonds,  and  are  much  more  bold  to  speak  the 
word  without  fear.'  In  prosperous  times  religion  is  usually  stained 
with  the  scandals  of  those  that  profess  it ;  and  then  God  bringeth  on 
great  trials  to  honour  and  clear  the  renown  of  it  again  to  the  world, 
and  usually  these  prevail.  Justin  Martyr  was  converted  by  the  con 
stancy  of  the  Christians  (Niceph.  lib.  iii.  cap.  26).  Nay,  he  himself 
confesseth  it.2  When  he  saw  the  Christians  so •  willingly  choose  death, 
he  reasoned  thus  within  himself :  Surely  these  men  must  be  honest,  and 
there  is  somewhat  eminent  in  their  principles.  So  I  remember  the 
author  of  the  Council  of  Trent  saith  concerning  Anne  de  Burg,  a 
senator  of  Paris,  who  was  burnt  for  Protestantism,  that  the  death  and 
constancy  of  a  man  so  conspicuous  did  make  many  curious  to  know 
what  religion  that  was  for  which  he  had  courageously  endured  pun 
ishment,  and  so  the  number  was  much  increased.3  (2d.)  We  are  tried 

1  'Probatio  innocentiso  nostrue  est  iniquitas  vestra.' — Tertul.  in  Apol. 

2  Justin  Mart,  in  Apol.  2,  circa  finem. 

3  See  Hist,  of  the  Council  of  Trent,  p.  418,2d  edit. 

JAS.  I.  3.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  31 

with  a  respect  to  the  day  of  judgment :  1  Peter  i.  7,  '  That  the  trial 
of  your  faith  may  be  found  to  praise  and  honour  in  the  day  of  Christ's 
appearing.'  God  will  justify  faith  before  all  the  world,  and  the  crown 
of  patience  is  set  upon  a  believer's  head  in  that  solemn  day  of  Christ. 
You  see  the  reasons  why  God  trieth. 

Use.  Well,  then,  it  teacheth  us  to  bear  afflictions  with  constancy 
and  patience  ;  God  trieth  us  by  these  things.  For  your  comfort  con 
sider  four  things : — (1.)  God's  aim  in  your  afflictions  is  not  destruction, 
but  trial ;  as  gold  is  put  into  the  furnace  to  be  fined,  not  consumed. 
Wicked  men's  misery  is  '  an  evil,  arid  an  only  evil,'  Ezek.  vii.  5.  In 
their  cup  there  is  no  mixture,  and  their  plagues  are  not  to  fan,  but 
destroy.  But  to  godly  men,  miseries  have  another  property  and  habi 
tude  :  Dan.  xi.  35,  '  They  shall  fall  to  try,  and  to  purge,  and  to  make 
white ; '  that  is,  in  times  of  many  persecutions,  as  was  that  of  Anti- 
ochus,  the  figure  of  Antichrist.  (2.)  The  time  of  trial  is  appointed  : 
Dan.  xi.  35,  '  They  shall  fall  to  try,  and  to  purge,  and  to  make  white, 
even  to  the  time  of  the  end,  because  it  is  yet  for  a  time  appointed.' 
You  are  not  in  the  furnace  by  chance,  or  at  the  will  of  your  enemies ; 
the  time  is  appointed,  set  by  God.  (3.)  God  sitteth  by  the  furnace 
prying  and  looking  after  his  metal :  Mai.  iii.  3,  '  He  shall  sit  as  a  refiner 
and  purifier  of  silver/  It  notes  his  constant  and  assiduous  care,  that 
the  fire  be  not  too  hot,  that  nothing  be  spilt  and  lost.  It  is  a  notable 
expression  that  of  Isa.  xlviii.  9,  10:  'For  my  praise  will  I  refrain  ;  I 
have  refined  thee,  but  not  as  silver  ; '  that  is,  not  so  thoroughly.  Silver 
or  gold  is  kept  in  the  fire  till  the  dross  be  wholly  wrought  out  of  it : 
if  we  should  be  fined  as  silver,  when  should  we  come  out  of  the  fur 
nace  ?  Therefore  God  saith  he  will  '  choose  us  in  the  furnace,'  though 
much  dross  still  remain.  (4.)  Consider,  this  trial  is  not  only  to  approve, 
but  to  improve  ;  we  are  tried  as  gold,  refined  when  tried  :  so  1  Peter  i. 
7,  '  That  the  trial  of  your  faith,  being  much  more  precious  than  gold 
that  perisheth  ; '  or  more  clearly  in  Job  xxiii.  10,  '  When  he  hath 
tried  me,  I  shall  come  forth  as  gold :  '  the  drossy  and  scorious  part  or 
matter  is  Severed,  and  the  corruptions  that  cleave  close  to  us  are  purged 
and  eaten  out. 

Obs.  3.  From  that,  your  faith.  The  chief  grace  which  is  tried  in 
persecution  is  faith:  so  in  1  Peter  i.  7,  k  That  the  trial  of  your  faith, 
being  more  precious/  &c.  Of  all  graces  Satan  hath  a  spite  at  faitfy, 
and  of  all  graces  God  delighteth  that  the  perfection  of  it  should  be 
discovered.  Faith  is  tried,  partly  because  it  is  the  radical  grace  that 
keepeth  in  the  life  of  a  Christian  :  Hab.  ii.  4,  '  The  just  shall  live  by 
faith  : '  we  work  by  love,  but  live  by  faith  ;  partly  because  this  is  the 
grace  most  exercised,  sometimes  in  keeping  the  soul  from  using  ill 
means,  and  unlawful  courses  :  Isa.  xxviii.  16,  'He  that  believeth  doth 
not  make  haste ; '  that  is,  to  help  himself  before  God  will.  It  is  believ 
ing  that  maketh  the  soul  stand  to  its  proof  and  trial :  Heb.  xi.  35, 
'  By  faith  those  that  were  tortured  would  not  accept  deliverance  ; ' 
that  is,  which  was  offered  to  them  upon  ill  terms,  of  refusing  God  and 
his  service.  Sometimes  it  is  exercised  in  bringing  the  soul  to  live 
upon  gospel-comforts  in  the  absence  of  want  of  worldly,  and  to  make 
a  Christian  to  fetch  water  out  of  the  rock  when  there  is  none  in  the 
fountain.  Many  occasions  there  are  to  exercise  faith,  partly  because 


it  is  the  grace  most  oppugned  and  assaulted  ;  all  other  graces  march 
under  the  conduct  of  faith  :  and  therefore  Satan's  cunning^is  to  fight, 
not  against  small  or  great,  but  to  make  the  brunt  and  weight  of  his 
opposition  to  fall  upon  this  grace :  nay,  God  himself  seemeth  an 
enemy,  and  it  is  faith's  work  to  believe  him  near,  when  to  sense  he  is 
gone  and  withdrawn.  Well,  then  : — 

Use  1.  You  that  have  faith,  or  pretend  to  it,  must  look  for  trials. 
Graces  are  not  crowned  till  they  are  exercised ;  never  any  yet  went  to 
heaven  without  combats  and  conflicts.  Faith  must  be  tried  before  it 
be  '  found  to  praise  and  honour.'  It  is  very  notable,  that  wherever 
God  bestoweth  the  assurance  of  his  favour,  there  presently  followeth 
some  trial :  Heb.  x.  32,  '  After  ye  were  illuminated,  ye  endured  a  great 
fight  of  afflictions/  Some  are  cast  upon  troubles  for  religion  soon  after 
their  first  conversion,  like  these,  as  soon  as  illuminated.  When  Christ 
himself  had  received  a  testimony  from  heaven,  presently  Satan 
tempteth  him  :  '  This  is  my  beloved  Son  ; '  and  presently  he  cometh 
with  an,  '  If  thou  be  the  Son  of  God ' — Mat.  iii.  17,  with  Mat.  iv.  1, 
3  :  after  solemn  assurance  he  would  fain  make  you  question  your 
adoption.  So  see  Gen.  xxii.  1  :  '  It  came  to  pass  that  after  these  things 
God  did  tempt  Abraham/  What  things  were  those  ?  Solemn  inter 
courses  between  him  and  God,  and  express  assurance  from  heaven  that 
the  Lord  would  be  his  God,  and  the  God  of  his  seed.  When  the  castle 
is  victualled,  then  look  for  a  siege. 

Use  2.  You  that  are  under  trials,  look  to  your  faith.  Christ  knew 
what  was  most  likely  to  be  assailed,  and  therefore  telleth  Peter,  Luke 
xxii.  32,  '  I  have  prayed  for  thee,  that  thy  faith  fail  not/  When 
faith  faileth,  we  faint ;  therefore  we  should  make  it  our  chief  work  to 
maintain  faith.  Chiefly  look  after  two  things : — (1.)  Hold  fast  your 
assurance  in  the  midst  of  the  saddest  trials:  in  the  furnace  call  God 
Father  :  Zech.  xiii.  21,  '  I  will  bring  them  through  the  fire,  and  they 
shall  be  refined  as  silver  and  gold  is  tried  :  and  they  shall  say,  The  Lord 
is  my  God.'  Let  not  any  hard  dealing  make  you  mistake  your  Father's 
affection.  One  special  point  of  faith,  under  the  cross,  is  the  faith  of  our 
adoption:  Heb.  xii.  5, '  The  exhortation  speaketh  to  you  as  children;  my 
son,  despise  not  the  chastening  of  the  Lord/  It  is  the  apostle's  own  note 
that  the  afflicted  are  styled  by  the  name  of  sons.  Christ  had  a  bitter 
cup,  but  saith  lie,  My  Father  hath  put  it  into  my  hands:  John  xviii. 
11,  '  The  cup  which  my  Father  hath  given  me,  shall  I  not  drink  of 
it  ?  '  It  is  a  bitter  cup,  but  he  is  still  my  Father.  (2.)  The  next  work 
of  faith  is,  to  keep  your  hopes  fresh  and  lively :  believers  always 
counter-balance  the  temptation  with  their  hopes.  There  is  no  grief 
or  loss  so  great,  but  faith  knoweth  how  to  despise  it  in  the  hope  of  the 
reward:  therefore  the  apostle  describeth  faith  to  be,  Heb.  xi.  1, 
uTTocrracrt?  TWV  e\7ri£o/jiei>a)v,  '  the  substance  of  things  hoped  for  ; ' 
because  it  giveth  a  reality  and  present  being  to  things  absent  and  to 
come,  opposing  hope  to  the  temptation,  and  making  the  thing  hoped 
for  as  really  to  exist  in  the  heart  of  the  believer  as  if  it  were  already 
enjoyed.  Well,  then,  let  faith  put  your  hopes  in  one  balance,  when 
the  devil  hath  put  the  world,  with  the  terrors  and  profits  of  it,  in  the 
other;  and  say,  as  Paul,  Xoyi&paL,  '  I  reckon,  or  compute,  that  the 
sufferings  of  this  present  time  are  not  worthy  to  be  compared  with  the 

JAS.  I.  3.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  33 

glory  that  shall  be  revealed  in  us,'  Kom.  viii.  18.  All  this  is  nothing 
to  our  hopes :  what  is  this  to  glory  to  come  ? 

Obs.  4.  From  that  /carepyd^erai,  worketh  or  perfecteth,  many  trials 
cause  patience,  that  is,  by  the  blessing  of  God  upon  them.  Habits  are 
strengthened  by  frequent  acts  ;  the  more  you  act  grace,  the  stronger ; 
and  often  trial  puts  us  upon  frequent  exercise  :  the  apostle  saith,  chas 
tening  'yieldeth  the  quiet  fruit  of  righteousness,  rot?  veyv/j,vaa-/ji,evois, 
to  them  that  are  exercised  thereby,'  Heb.  xii.  11.  The  fruit  of  patience 
is  not  found  after  one  affliction  or  two,  but  after  we  are  exercised  and 
acquainted  with  them  :  the  yoke  after  a  while  begin neth  to  be  well 
settled,  and  by  much  bearing,  we  learn  to  bear  with  quietness,  for  use 
perfecteth ;  as  we  see  those  parts  of  the  body  are  most  solid  that  are 
most  in  action,1  and  trees  often  shaken  are  deeply  rooted.  Well,  then  : 
(1.)  It  showeth  how  careful  you  should  be  to  exercise  yourselves  under 
every  cross ;  by  that  means  you  come  to  get  habits  of  grace  and 
patience :  neglect  causeth  decay,  and  God  withdraweth  his  hand  from 
such  as  are  idle :  in  spirituals,  as  well  as  temporals,  '  diligence  maketh 
rich,'  Prov.  x.  4.  (2.)  It  showeth  that  if  we  murmur  or  miscarry  in 
any  providence,  the  fault  is  in  our  own  hearts,  not  in  our  condition. 
Many  blame  providence,  and  say  they  cannot  do  otherwise,  their 
troubles  are  so  great  and  sharp.  Oh  !  consider,  trials,  yea,  many  trials, 
where  sanctified,  work  patience :  that  which  you  think  would  cause 
you  to  murmur,  is  a  means  to  make  you  patient.  The  evil  is  in  the 
unmortifiedness  of  your  affections,  not  in  the  misery  of  your  condition. 
By  the  apostle's  rule,  the  greater  the  trial  the  greater  the  patience, 
for  the  trial  worketh  patience.  There  is  no  condition  in  the  world 
but  giveth  occasion  for  the  exercise  of  grace. 

Obs.  5.  From  that  patience,  the  apostle  comforteth  them  with 
this  argument,  that  they  should  gain  patience  ;  as  if  that  would  make 
amends  for  all  the  smart  of  their  sufferings.  The  note  is,  that  it  is 
an  excellent  exchange  to  part  with  outward  Comforts  for  inward  graces. 
Fiery  trials  are  nothing  if  you  gain  patience.  Sickness,  with  patience, 
is  better  than  health ;  loss,  with  patience,  is  better  than  gain.  If 
earthly  affections  were  more  mortified,  we  should  value  inward  enjoy 
ments  and  experiences  of  God  more  than  we  do.  Paul  saith,  2  Cor. 
xii.  9,  '  I  will  glory  in  my  infirmities,  that  the  power  of  Christ  may 
rest  upon  me : '  misery  and  calamities  should  be  welcome,  because 
they  gave  him  further  experiences  of  Christ.  Certainly,  nothing 
maketh  afflictions  burthensome  to  us  but  our  own  carnal  affections. 

Obs.  6.  From  the  same,  we  may  observe  more  particularly,  that 
patience  is  a  grace  of  an  excellent  use  and  value.  We  cannot  be 
Christians  without  it ;  we  cannot  be  men  without  it :  not  Christians, 
for  it  is  not  only  the  ornament,  but  the  conservatory  of  other  graces. 
How  else  should  we  persist  in  well-doing  when  we  meet  with  grievous 
crosses  ?  Therefore  the  apostle  Peter  biddeth  us,  2  Peter  i.  5,  6,  to 
'  add  to  faith,  virtue ;  to  virtue,  knowledge  ;  to  knowledge,  temper 
ance  ;  to  temperance,  patience.'  Where  are  all  the  requisites  of  true 
godliness  ?  It  is  grounded  in  faith,  directed  by  knowledge  ;  defended, 
on  the  right  hand,  by  temperance  against  the  allurements  of  the  world  ; 

1  '  Ferendo  discimus  perferre ;  solidissima  pars  est  corporis,  quam  frequens  usus  agita- 
vit.' — Seneca. 

VOL.  IV.  0 


on  the  left,  by  patience  against  the  hardships  of  the  world.  ^  You  see 
we  cannot  be  Christians  without  it ;  so,  also,  not  men.  ^  Christ  saith, 
'  In  patience  possess  your  souls/  Luke  xxi.  19.  A  man  is  a  man,  and 
doth  enjoy  himself  and  his  life  by  patience :  otherwise  we  shall  but 
create  needless  troubles  and  disquiets  to  ourselves,  ^  and  so  be,  as  it 
were,  dispossessed  of  our  own  lives  and  souls— that  is,  lose  the  comfort 
and  the  quiet  of  them. 

Ver.  4.  But  let  patience  have  her  perfect  work,  that  you  may  be 
perfect  and  entire,  wanting  in  nothing. 

Here  he  cometh  to  show  what  patience  is  right,  by  way  of  exhorta 
tion,  pressing  them  to  perseverance,  integrity,  and  all  possible  perfec 
tion.  I  will  open  what  is  difficult  in  the  verse. 

"Epyov  re\€iov,  her  perfect  work. — For  the  opening  of  this,  know 
that  in  the  apostle's  time  there  were  divers  that  with  a  great  deal  of 
zeal  bore  out  the  first  brunt,  but  being  tired,  either  with  the  diversity 
or  the  length  of  evils,  they  yielded  and  fainted  ;  therefore  he  wisheth 
them  to  tarry  till  patience  were  thoroughly  exercised,  and  its  perfection 
discovered.  The  highest  acts  of  graces  are  called  the  perfection  of 
them :  as  of  Abraham's  faith  we  say,  in  ordinary  speech,  there  was  a 
perfect  faith ;  so  when  patience  is  thoroughly  tried  by  sundry  and 
long  afflictions,  we  say  there  is  a  perfect  patience.  So  that  the  perfect 
work  of  patience  is  a  resolute  perseverance,  notwithstanding  the  length, 
the  sharpness,  and  the  continual  succession  of  sundry  afflictions.  One 
trial  discovered  patience  in  Job  ;  but  when  evil  came  upon  evil,  and 
he  bore  all  with  a  meek  and  quiet  spirit,  that  discovered  patience 
perfect,  or  sufficiently  exercised.  It  followeth  : — 

That  you  may  be  perfect  and  entire,  wanting  in  nothing. — The 
apostle's  intent  is  not  to  assert  a  possibility  of  perfection  in  Christians: 
*  We  all  fail  in  many  things/  James  iii.  2.  And  all  that  we  have 
here  is  but  in  part:  1  Cor.  xiii.  9,  10,  'We  know  in  part,  and  we 
prophesy  in  part ;  but  when  that  which  is  perfect  is  come,  then  that 
which  is  in  part  shall  be  done  away.'  Here  grace  must  needs  be 
imperfect,  because  the  means  are  imperfect.  But  his  meaning  is  either 
that  we  should  be  sincere,  as  sincerity  is  called  perfection  in  scripture: 
Gen.  xvii.  1,  '  Walk  before  me,  and  be  thou  perfect ; '  so  it  is  in  the 
original  and  marginal  reading,  what  in  our  translation  is,  '  be  thou 
upright ; '  or  else  it  is  meant  of  the  perfection  of  duration  and  perse 
verance  ;  or  rather,  lastly,  that  perfection  is  intended  which  is  called 
the  perfection  of  parts, — that  we  might  be  so  perfect,  or  entire,  that 
no  necessary  grace  might  be  lacking — that,  having  other  gifts,  they 
might  also  have  the  gift  of  patience,  and  the  whole  image  of  Christ 
might  be  completed  in  them — that  nothing  might  be  wanting  which  is 
necessary  to  make  up  a  Christian.  Some,  indeed,  make  this  a  legal 
sentence,  as  implying  what  God  may  in  justice  require,  and  to  what 
we  should  in  conscience  aim — to  wit,  exact  perfection,  both  in  parts 
and  degrees.  It  is  true  this  is  beyond  our  power ;  but  because  we 
have  lost  our  power,  there  is  no  reason  God  should  lose  his  right.  It 
is  a  saying  of  Austin,  1  0  homo,  in  prceceptione  cognosce  quid  debeas 
habere,  et  in  correptione  cognosce  tuo  te  vitio  non  habere.  Such  pre 
cepts  serve  to  show  God's  right,  and  quicken  us  to  duty,  and  humble 

1  Aug.  in  lib.  de  Corrept.  et  Grat.  c.  3. 

JAS.  I.  4.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  35 

us  with  the  sense  of  our  own  weakness.  So  much  God  might  require, 
and  so  much  we  had  power  to  perform,  though  we  have  lost  it  by  our 
own  default.  This  is  true,  but  the  former  interpretations  are  more 
simple  and  genuine. 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  The  perfection  of  our  graces  is  not  discovered  till  we  are 
put  upon  many  and  great  trials.  As  a  pilot's  skill  is  discerned  in  a 
storm,  so  is  a  Christian's  grace  in  many  and  great  troubles.1  Well, 
then,  in  all  that  doth  befall  you,  say,  Yet  patience  hath  not  had  its 
perfect  work.  Expectation  of  a  worse  thing  maketh  lesser  troubles 
more  comportable ;  yet  trust  and  patience  is  not  drawn  out  to  the 
height.  The  apostle  saith,  Heb.  xii.  4,  '  Yet  ye  have  not  resisted 
unto  blood,  striving  against  sin/  Should  we  faint  in  a  lesser  trial, 
before  the  perfect  work  cometh  to  be  discovered  ?  Job  was  in  a  sad 
condition,  yet  he  putteth  a  harder  case :  Job  xiii.  15,  '  If  he  should 
kill  me,  yet  I  will  trust  in  him : '  in  a  higher  trial  I  should  not  faint 
or  murmur. 

Obs.  2.  That  the  exercise  of  grace  must  not  be  interrupted  till  it  be 
full  and  perfect — till  it  come  to  6^70^  reXetov,  a  perfect  work.  Ordi 
nary  spirits  may  be  a  little  raised  for  a  time,  but  they  fall  by  and  by 
again  :  Gal.  v.  7,  '  Ye  did  run  well ;  who  hindered  you  ?  '  You  were 
in  a  good  way  of  faith  and  patience,  and  went  happily  forward  ;  but 
what  turned  you  out  of  the  way  ?  Implying  there  was  as  little,  or 
rather  less,  reason  to  be  faint  in  the  progress  as  to  be  discouraged  in 
the  beginning.  Common  principles  may  make  men  blaze  and  glare 
for  a  while,  yet  afterward  they  fall  from  heaven  like  lightning.  It  is 
true  of  all  graces,  but  chiefly  of  the  grace  in  the  text.  Patience  must 
last  to  the  end  of  the  providence,  as  long  as  the  affliction  lasteth  ;  not 
only  at  first,  but  when  your  evils  are  doubled,  and  the  furnace  is 
heated  seven  times  hotter.  Common  stubbornness  will  bear  the  first 
onset,  but  patience  holdeth  out  when  troubles  are  continued  and 
delayed.  The  apostle  chideth  the  Galatians  because  their  first  heat 
was  soon  spent :  Gal.  iii.  3,  *  Are  ye  so  foolish  ?  having  begun  in  the 
spirit,  are  ye  made  perfect  in  the  flesh  ? '  It  is  not  enough  to  begin  ; 
our  proceedings  in  religion  must  be  answerable  to  our  beginnings.2 
To  falter  and  stagger  after  much  forwardness,3  showeth  we  are  '  not 
fit  for  the  kingdom  of  God,'  Luke  ix.  62.  The  beasts  in  the  prophet 
always  went  forward  (see  Ezek.  i.  11) ;  and  crabs,  that  go  backward, 
are  reckoned  among  unclean  creaturesy  Lev.  xi.  10.  Nero's  first  five 
years  are  famous  ;  and  many  set  forth  well,  but  are  soon  discouraged. 
Liberius,  the  Bishop  of  Home,  was  zealous  against  the  Arians,  and 
was  looked  upon  as  the  Samson  of  the  church,  the  most  earnest 
maintainer  of  orthodoxism ;  suffered  banishment  for  the  truth ;  but 
alas!  he  after  failed,  and  to  recover  his  bishopric  (saith  Baronius4), 
sided  with  the  Arians.  Well,  then,  while  you  are  in  the  world,  go  on 
to  a  more  perfect  discovery  of  patience,  and  follow  them  that,  '  through 

1  '  Gubernatoris  artem  tranquillum  mare  efc  obsequens  ventus  non  ostendit;  adversi 
aliquid  incurrat  oportet,  quod  animum  probet.' — Sen.  ad  Marc.  c.  5. 

2  '  Non  incepisse  sed  perfecisse  virtutis  est.' — Aug.  ad  Frat.  in  Eremo.  Ser.  8. 

3  '  Turpe  est  cedere  oneri,  et  luctari  cum  officio  quod  semel  recepisti ;  nou  est  vir  fortis 
et  strenuus  qui  laborem  fugit,  nee  crescit  illi  animus  ipsa  rerum  difficultate. ' — Seneca. 

4  Baronius  ad  annum  Christi,  357. 


faith'  and  a  continued  <  patience,  have  inherited  the  promises/  Heb. 
vi  .12. 

Obs.  3.  That  Christians  must  aim  at,  and  press  on  to  perfection. 
The  apostle  saith,  '  That  ye  may  be  perfect  and  entire,  nothing  want 
ing/  (1.)  Christians  will  be  coveting,  and  aspiring  to,  absolute  per 
fection.  We  are  led  on  to  growth  by  this  aim  and  desire  :  they  hate 
sin  so  perfectly,  that  they  cannot  be  quiet  till  it  be  utterly  abolished. 
First,  they  go  to  God  for  justification,  ne  damnet^  that  the  damning 
power  of  sin  may  be  taken  away  ;  then  for  sanctification,  ne  regnet, 
that  the  reigning  power  of  sin  may  be  destroyed  ;  then  for  glorification, 
ne  sit,  that  the  very  being  of  it  may  be  abolished.  And  as  they  are 
bent  against  sin  with  a  mortal  and  keen  hatred,  so  they  are  carried  on 
with  an  earnest  and  importunate  desire  of  grace.  They  that  have 
true  grace  will  not  be  contented  with  a  little  grace ;  no  measures  will 
serve  their  turn.  '  I  would  by  any  means  attain  to  the  resurrection 
of  the  dead,'  saith  Paul,  Phil.  iii.  11  ;  that  is,  such  a  state  of  grace  as 
we  enjoy  after  the  resurrection.  It  is  a  metonymy  of  the  subject  for 
the  adjunct.  Free  grace,  you  see,  hath  a  vast  desire  and  ambition  ; 
it  aimeth  at  the  holiness  of  the  glorious  and  everlasting  state  ;  and, 
indeed,  this  is  it  which  makes  a  Christian  to  press  onward,  and  be  so 
earnest  in  his  endeavours ;  as  Heb.  vi.  1 ,  with  4,  '  Let  us  go  on  to 
perfection ; '  and  then  ver.  4,  *  It  is  impossible  for  those  that  were 
once  enlightened/  &c.,  implying  that  men  go  back  when  they  do  not 
go  on  to  perfection  ;  having  low  aims,  they  go  backward,  and  fall  off. 
(2.)  Christians  must  be  actually  perfect  in  all  points  and  parts  of 
Christianity.  As  they  will  have  faith,  they  will  have  patience;  as 
patience,  love  and  zeal.  In  1  Peter  i.  15,  the  rule  is,  '  Be  ye  holy,  as  I 
am  holy,  in  all  manner  of  conversation/  Every  point  and  part  of  life 
must  be  seasoned  with  grace,  therefore  the  apostle  saith,  lv  Tracrfj 
ava<rrpo<l>fj,  in  every  creek  and  turning  of  the  conversation  :  so  2  Cor. 
viii.  7,  '  As  ye  abound  in  everything,  in  faith,  and  utterance,  and 
knowledge,  and  in  all  diligence,  see  that  ye  abound  in  this  grace  also/ 
Hypocrites  are  always  lacking  in  one  part  or  another.  The  Corinthians 
had  much  knowledge  and  utterance,  and  little  charity  ;  as  many  pro 
fessors  pray  much,  know  much,  hear  much,  but  do  not  give  much ; 
they  do  not  '  abound  in  this  also/  As  Basil  saith  in  his  sermon  ad 
Divites,  I  know  many  that  fast,  pray,  sigh,  Trdcrav  rrjv  dbdiravnv  evkd- 
fteiav  eK^iavvfjbevov^^  love  all  cheap  acts  of  religion,  and  such  as  cost 
nothing  but  their  own  pains,  but  are  sordid  and  base,  withholding  from 
God  and  the  poor,  rl  o^eXo?  TOVTOLS  TT}?  XO/TTT;?  dperTJs.  What  profit 
have  they  in  their  other  graces  when  they  are  not  perfect  ?  There  is 
a  link  and  cognation  between  the  graces ;  they  love  to  go  hand  in 
hand,  to  come  up  as  in  a  dance,  and  consort,  as  some  expound  the 
apostle's  word,  eV^of^We :  2  Peter  i.  5,  '  Add  to  faith,  virtue,'  Ac. 
One  allowed  miscarriage  or  neglect  may  be  fatal.  Say,  then,  thus 
within  yourselves— A  Christian  should  be  found  in  nothing  wanting. 
Oh !  but  how  many  sad  defects  are  there  in  my  soul !  if  I  were 
weighed  in  God's  balance,  I  should  be  found  much  wanting  !  Oh, 
strive  to  be  more  entire  and  perfect.  (3.)  They  aim  at  the  perfection 
of  duration,  that,  as  they  would  be  wanting  in  no  part  of  duty,  so  in 
no  part  of  their  lives.  Subsequent  acts  of  apostasy  make  our  former 

JAS.  I.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  37 

crown  to  wither  ;  they  lose  what  they  have  wrought,  2  John  8.  All 
their  spiritual  labour  formerly  bestowed  is  to  no  purpose,  and  whatever 
we  have  done  and  suffered  for  the  gospel,  it  is,  in  regard  of  God,  lost 
and  forgotten.  So  Ezek.  xviii.  24,  '  When  he  turneth  to  iniquity,  all 
the  righteousness  that  he  hath  done  shall  not  be  mentioned/  As  under 
the  law,  if  a  Nazarite  had  defiled  himself,  he  was  to  begin  all  anew : 
Num.  vi.  12,  *  The  days  that  were  before  shall  be  lost,  because  his 
separation  was  denied ; '  as  if  he  had  fulfilled  the  half  part  of  his  vow, 
or  three  parts  of  his  vow,  yet  all  was  to  be  null  and  lost  upon  every 
pollution,  and  he  was  to  begin  again.  So  it  is  in  point  of  apostasy; 
after,  by  a  solemn  vow  and  consecration,  we  have  separated  ourselves 
to  Christ,  if  we  do  not  endure  to  the  end,  all  the  righteousness,  zeal, 
and  patience  of  our  former  profession  is  forgotten. 

Ver.  5.  If  any  of  you  lack  wisdom,  let  him  ask  of  God,  that  giveth 
to  all  men  liberally,  and  upbraideth  not ;  and  it  shall  be  given  him. 

The  apostle,  having  spoken  of  bearing  afflictions  with  a  mind  above 
them,  cometh  here  to  prevent  an  objection,  which  might  be  framed 
thus :  This  is  a  hard  saying,  to  keep  up  the  spirit  not  only  in  patience, 
but  joy  ;  when  all  things  are  against  us,  who  can  abide  it  ?  .Duty  is 
soon  expressed,  but  how  shall  we  get  it  practised?  The  apostle 
granteth  it  is  hard,  and  it  will  require  a  great  deal  of  spiritual  skill 
and  wisdom,  which,  if  you  want  (saith  he),  God  will  furnish  you,  if 
you  ask  it  of  him ;  and  upon  this  occasion  digresseth  into  the  rules 
and  encouragements  of  prayer :  in  this  verse  he  encourageth  them  by 
the  nature  and  promise  of  God.  But  to  the  words. 

If  any  of  y OIL — This  if  doth  not  argue  doubt,  but  only  inferreth  a 
supposition.1  But  why  doth  the  apostle  speak  with  a  supposition  ? 
Who  doth  not  lack  wisdom  ?  May  we  not  ask,  in  the  prophet's  question, 
*  Who  is  wise  ?  who  is  prudent  ?  '  Hosea  xiv.  9.  I  answer — (1.)  Such 
expressions  do  more  strongly  aver  and  affirm  a  thing,  as  Mai.  i.  6  :  '  If 
I  be  a  father,  where  is  my  honour  ?  If  I  be  a  master,  where  is  my 
fear  ?'  Not  as  if  God  would  make  a  doubt  of  these  things,  but  such  sup 
positions  are  the  strongest  affirmations,  for  they  imply  a  presumption 
of  a  concession :  you  will  all  grant,  I  am  a  father  and  a  master,  &c. 
So  here,  if  you  lack  wisdom :  you  will  grant  you  all  lack  this  skill.  So 
Eom.  xiii.  9,  '  If  there  be  any  other  commandment/  &c.  The  apostle 
knew  there  was  another  commandment,  but  he  proceeded  upon  that 
grant.  So  2  Thes.  i.  6,  eiirep,  '  If  it  be  a  righteous  thing,'  &c.  The 
apostle  taketh  it  for  granted  it  is  righteous  to  render  tribulation  to 
the  troubler,  and  proceedeth  upon  that  grant :  and  therefore  we  render 
it  affirmatively,  '  seeing  it  is/  &c.  So  James  v.  15,  '  If  he  hath  com 
mitted  sins/  Why,  who  hath  not  ?  It  is,  I  say,  a  proceeding  upon  a 
presumption  of  a  grant.  (2.)  All  do  not  lack  in  a  like  manner  :  some 
want  only  further  degrees  and  supplies  ;  therefore,  if  you  lack  ;  with 
a  supposition,  if  you  lack  it  wholly,  or  only  more  measures. 

Wisdom. — It  is  to  be  restrained  to  the  circumstances  of  the  text,  not 
taken  generally  :  he  intendeth  wisdom  or  skill  to  bear  afflictions  ;  for 
in  the  original  the  beginning  of  this  verse  doth  plainly  catch  hold  of 
the  heel  of  the  former,  eV  jmrjSevl  Xet7ro//,ez/ot,  and  then  el  &e  rt? 
'  lacking  nothing,'  and  presently,  '  if  any  of  you  lack/ 

1  Nou  dubitantis  est,  sed  supponentis. 


Let  Mm  ask  it  ;  that  is,  by  serious  and  earnest  prayer. 

Of  God ;  to  whom  our  addresses  must  be  immediate. 

That  giveth  to  all  men. — -Some  suppose  it  implieth  the  natural 
beneficence  and  general  bounty  of  God,  as  indeed  that  is  an  argument 
in  prayer  ;  God,  that  giveth  to  all  men,  will  not  deny  his  saints  :  as  the 
psalmist  rnaketh  God's  common  bounty  to  the  creatures  to  be  aground 
of  hope  and  confidence  to  his  people,  Ps.  cxlv.  16,  '  Thou  satisfiest 
the  desire  of  every  living  thing ; '  and  upon  this  his  trust  groweth, 
ver.  19,  'He  will  fulfil  the  desires  of  them  that  fear  him/  He  that 
satisfieth  every  living  thing  certainly  will  satisfy  his  own  servants. 
There  is  a  general  bounty  of  God,  which  though  liberally  dispensed, 
yet  is  not  specially.  But  this  sense  the  context  will  not  bear.  By  all 
men,  then,  may  be  understood  all  kinds  of  persons — Jew,  Greek,  or 
barbarian,  high  or  low,  rich  or  poor.  God  giveth  not  with  a  respect 
to  outward  excellency  ;  he  giveth  to  all  men  :  or  else,  (3.)  and  so  most 
suitably  to  the  context,  to  all  askers,  all  that  seek  him  with  earnestness 
and  trust;  however,  it  is  thus  generally  expressed,  that  none  might 
be  discouraged,  but  apply  himself  to  God  with  some  hope. 

Liberally. — The  word  in  the  original  is  aTrXw?,  which  properly  signi- 
fieth  simply,  but  usually  in  matters  of  this  nature  it  is  taken  for 
bountifully.  I  note  it  the  rather  to  explain  many  other  places ;  as 
Mat.  vi.  22 :  Christ  would  have  the  '  eye  single/  that  is,  bounteous, 
not  looking  after  the  money  we  part  with  :  so  Eom.  xii.  8,  '  He  that 
giveth,  let  him  do  it  ev  aTrXoryri,,  with  simplicity/  we  read,  but  in  the 
margin,  '  liberally,  or  bountifully/  So  Acts  ii.  46,  '  They  did  eat  their 
bread  with  all  singleness  of  heart ; '  that  is,  bounteously,  liberally,  as 
we  translate  the  word  in  other  places,  as  2  Cor.  viii.  2,  '  The  riches 
of  your  singleness,'  we  translate  '  liberality : '  so  2  Cor.  ix.  11,  the 
same  word  is  used  for  bounty  ;  and  this  word  simplicity  is  so  often  put 
for  'bounty,  to  show — (1.)  That  it  must  come  from  the  free  and  single 
motion  of  our  hearts ;  as  they  that  give  sparingly  give  with  a  hand 
half  shut  and  a  heart  half  willing ;  that  is,  not  simply,  with  a  native 
and  free  motion.  (2.)  That  we  must  not  give  deceitfully,  as  serving 
our  own  ends,  or  with  another  intent  than  our  bounty  seemeth  to  hold 
forth :  so  God  gives  simply,  that  is,  as  David  expresseth  it,  2  Sam. 
vii.  21,  according  to  his  own  heart. 

Andupbraideth  no  man. — Here  he  reproveth  another  usual  blemish 
of  man's  bounty,  which  is  to  upbraid  others  with  what  they  have  done 
for  them,  and  that  eateth  out  all  the  worth  of  a  kindness :  the  laws 
of  courtesy  requiring  that  the  receiver  should  remember,  and  the 
giver  forget :  1  but  God  upbraideth  riot.  But  you  will  say,  what  is  the 
meaning  then  of  those  expostulations  concerning  mercies  received? 
and  why  is  it  said,  Mat.  xi.  20,  '  Then  he  began  to  upbraid  the  cities, 
in  which  many  of  his  mighty  works  were  done '  ?  Because  of  this 
objection,  some  ^  expound  this  clause  one  way,  some  another;  some 
suppose  it  implieth  he  doth  not  give  proudly,  as  men  use  to  do,  up 
braiding  those  that  receive  with  their  words  or  looks :  so  God  up 
braideth  not,  that  is,  doth  not  disdainfully  reject  the  asker,  or  twit  him 
with  his  unworthiness,  or  doth  not  refuse  because  of  present  failings, 

i  'Hsec  beneficii  inter  duos  lex  est,  alter  oblivisci  debet  datistatim,  alter  accept!  nun- 
quam.' — Sen.  de  Beneficiis. 

JAS.  I.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  39 

or  former  infirmities.  But  I  think  it  rather  noteth  God's  indefati- 
gableness  to  do  good :  ask  as  oft  as  you  will,  he  upbraideth  you  not 
with  the  frequency  of  your  accesses  to  him :  he  doth  not  twit  us  with 
asking,  though  he  twitteth  us  with  the  abuse  of  what  we  have  re 
ceived  upon  asking.  He  doth  upbraid,  not  to  begrudge  his  own 
bounty,  but  to  bring  us  to  a  sense  of  our  shame,  and  to  make  us  own 
our  ingratitude. 

And  it  shall  be  given  him. — Besides  the  nature  of  God,  here  he 
urgeth  a  promise,  '  Let  him  ask  of  God,  and  it  shall  be  given  him/ 
The  descriptions  of  God  help  us  to  form  right  thoughts  of  him,  and 
the  promise,  to  fasten  upon  him  by  a  sure  trust. 

The  notes  are  these : — 

Obs.  1.  That  all  men  are  concluded  and  shut  up  under  an  estate  of 
lacking :  '  If  any  of  you.'  This  supposition,  as  we  showed  before,  is 
a  universal  affirmative.  God's  wisdom  suffereth  the  creatures  to  lack, 
because  dependence  begetteth  observance;  if  we  were  not  forced  to 
hang  upon  heaven,  and  live  upon  the  continued  supplies  of  God,  we 
would  not  care  for  him.  We  see  this — the  less  sensible  men  are  of  the 
condition  of  mankind,  the  less  religious.  Promises  usually  invite 
those  that  are  in  want,  because  they  are  most  likely  to  regard  them  : 
Isa.  Iv.  1.  '  Ho,  every  one  that  thirsteth,  and  he  that  hath  no  money ; ' 
Mat.  xi.  28,  '  The  weary  and  heavy  laden.'  In  the  5th  of  Matthew, 
'  The  poor  in  spirit/  and  '  they  that  hunger  and  thirst  after  righteous 
ness  : '  being  humbled  by  their  own  wants  and  needs,  they  are  most 
pliable  to  God's  offers.  Well,  then,  do  not  think  your  lot  is  above  the 
lot  of  the  rest  of  the  creatures.  God  only  is  avTap/cys,  self-happy,  self- 
sufficient;  other  things  are  encompassed  with  wants,  that  they  may 
look  after  him:  Ps.  cxlv.  15,  16,  'The  eyes  of  all  things  are  upon 
thee,  and  thou  satisfiest  the  desire  of  every  living  thing/  The  crea 
tures  are  made  up  of  desires,  that  their  eyes  may  be  upon  God. 
Certainly  they  want  most  that  want  nothing  :  be  sensible  of  your  con 

Obs.  2.  From  that  lack,  want  and  indigence  put  us  upon  prayer, 
and  our  addresses  to  heaven  begin  at  the  sense  of  our  own  needs. 
The  father  should  not  have  heard  from  the  prodigal,  had  he  not '  begun 
to  be  in  want,'  Luke  xv.  16.  Observe  it :  the  creature  first  beginneth 
with  God  out  of  self-love.  The  first  motive  and  allurement  is  the 
supply  of  our  wants.  But,  remember,  it  is  better  to  begin  in  the 
flesh  and  end  in  the  spirit,  than  to  begin  in  the  spirit  and  end  in  the 
flesh.  It  is  well  that  God  sanctifieth  our  self-love  to  so  blessed  a 
purpose.  If  there  had  not  been  so  many  miseries,  of  blindness, 
lameness,  possessions,  palsies,  in  the  days  of  Christ's  flesh,  there 
would  not  have  been  such  great  resort  to  him.  The  first  motive  is 

Obs.  3.  From  that  wisdom,  considered  with  respect  to  the  con 
text  ;  and  the  note  is,  that  there  is  need  of  great  wisdom  for  the  right 
managing  of  afflictions.  Cheerful  patience  is  a  holy  art  and  skill 
which  a  man  learneth  of  God :  '  I  have  learned  to  abound,  and  to  be 
abased/  Phil.  iv.  10.  Such  an  hard  lesson  needeth  much  learning. 
There  is  need  of  wisdom  in  several  respects : — (1.)  To  discern  of  God's 
end  in  it,  to  pick  out  the  language  and  meaning  of  the  dispensation : 


Micah  vi.  9,  '  Hear  the  rod/  Every  providence  hath  a  voice,  though 
sometimes  it  be  so  still  and  low  that  it  requireth  some  skill  to  hear 
it.  Our  spirits  are  most  satisfied  when  we  discern  God's  aim  in 
everything.  (2.)  To  know  the  nature  of  the  affliction,  whether  it  be 
to  fan  or  to  destroy  ;  how  it  is  intended  for  our  good ;  and  what  uses 
and  benefits  we  may  make  of  it :  '  Blessed  is  the  man  whom  thou 
chastisest,  and  teachest  out  of  thy  law/  Ps.  xciv.  12.  The  rod  is 
a  blessing  when  instruction  goeth  along  with  it  (3.)  To  find  out 
your  own  duty  ;  to  know  the  things  of  obedience  in  the  day  of  them : 
'  Oh  !  that  thou  wert  wise  in  this  thy  day/  Luke  xix.  41.  There  are 
seasonable  and  proper  duties  which  become  every  providence :  it  is 
wisdom  to  find  them  out ;  to  know  what  to  do  in  every  circumstance. 
(4.)  To  moderate  the  violences  of  our  own  passions.1  He  that  liveth 
by  sense,  will,  and  passion,  is  not  wise.  Skill  is  required  of  us  to 
apply  apt  counsels  and  comforts,  that  our  hearts  may  be  above  the 
misery  that  our  flesh  is  under.  The  Lord  'giveth  counsel  in  the 
reins/  and  that  calmeth  the  heart.  Well,  then:  (1.)  Get  wisdom,  if 
you  would  get  patience.  Men  of  understanding  have  the  greatest 
command  of  their  affections.  Our  hastiness  of  spirit  conieth  from 
folly,  Prov.  xiv.  29  ;  for  where  there  is  no  wisdom,  there  is  nothing 
to  counterbalance  affection.  Look,  as  discretion  sets  limits  to  anger, 
so  it  doth  to  sorrow.  Solomon  saith,  Prov.  xix.  11,  'The  discretion 
of  a  man  deferreth  his  anger ; '  so  it  doth  check  the  excesses  of  his 
grief.  (2.)  To  confute  the  world's  censure  ;  they  count  patience,  sim 
plicity,  and  meekness  under  injuries,  to  be  but  blockishness  and 
folly.  No ;  it  is  a  calmness  of  mind  upon  holy  arid  wise  grounds ; 
but  it  is  no  new  thing  with  the  world  to  call  good  evil,  and  to  bap 
tize  graces  with  a  name  of  their  own  fancying.  As  the  astronomers 
call  the  glorious  stars  bulls,  snakes,  dragons,  &c.,  so  they  miscall 
the  most  shining  and  glorious  graces.  Zeal  is  fury ;  strictness, 
nicety  ;  and  patience,  folly  !  And  yet  James  saith,  *  If  any  lack  wis 
dom/  meaning  patience.  (3.)  Would  ye  be  accounted  wise  ?  Show  it 
by  the  patience  and  calmness  of  your  spirits.  We  naturally  desire  to 
be  thought  sinful  rather  than  weak.  '  Are  we  blind  also  ? '  John  ix.  40. 
We  all  affect  the  repute  of  wisdom,  and  would  not  be  accounted 
blind  or  foolish.  Consider,  a  man  of  boisterous  affections  is  a  fool, 
and  he  that  hath  no  command  of  his  passions  hath  no  under 

Ols.  4.  From  that  of  God,  in  all  our  wants  we  must,  immedi 
ately  repair  to  God.  The  scriptures  do  not  direct  us  to  the  shrines  of 
saints,  but  to  the  throne  of  grace.  You  need  not  use  the  saints'  inter 
cession  ;  Christ  hath  opened  a  way  for  you  into  the  presence  of  the 

Obs.  5.  More  particularly  observe,  wisdom  must  be  sought  of  God. 
He  is  wise,  the  fountain  of  wisdom,  an  unexhausted  fountain.  His 
stock  is  not  spent  by  misgiving.  See  Job  xxxii.  8,  '  There  is  a  spirit 
in  man ;  but  the  inspiration  of  the  Almighty  giveth  understanding/ 
Men  have  the  faculty,  but  God  giveth  the  light,  as  the  dial  is  capable 

1  '  Sapiens  ad  omnem  incursum  munitus  et  intentus,  non  si  paupertas,  non  si  ignonri- 
nia,  non  si  dolor  impetuna  faciant,  pedem  referet ;  iuterritus  et  contra  ilia  ibit  et  inter 
ilia.' — Seneca. 


of  showing  the  time  of  the  day  when  the  sun  shineth  on  it.  It  is  a 
most  spiritual  idolatry  to  *  lean  to  our  own  understanding.'  True 
wisdom  is  a  divine  ray,  and  an  emanation  from  God.  Men  never 
obtain  it  but  in  the  way  of  a  humble  trust.  When  we  see  our 
insufficiency  and  God's  all-sufficiency,  then  the  Lord  undertaketh  for 
us,  to  direct  us  and  guide  us  :  Prov.  iii.  5,  6,  '  Acknowledge  the  Lord 
in  all  thy  ways,  and  he  shall  direct  thy  paths/  When  men  are  con 
ceited,  and  think  to  relieve  their  souls  by  their  own  thoughts  and 
care,  they  do  but  perplex  themselves  the  more.  God  will  be  acknow 
ledged,  that  is,  consulted  with,  in  all  our  undertakings  and  conflicts, 
or  else  we  shall  miscarry.  The  better  sort  of  heathens  would  not 
begin  anything  of  moment  without  asking  counsel  at  the  oracle.  As 
all  wisdom  is  to  be  sought  of  God,  so  especially  this  wisdom,  to  bear 
afflictions.  There  is  nothing  more  abhorrent  from  reason  than  to 
think  ourselves  happy  in  misery.  We  must  go  to  another  school 
than  that  of  nature.  I  confess  reason  and  nature  may  offer  some 
rules  that  may  carry  a  man  far  in  the  art  of  patience  ;  but  what  is  an 
inferior  or  grammar  school  to  a  university  ?  The  best  way  will  be, 
not  to  go  to  nature,  but  Christ,  '  in  whom  are  hid  all  the  treasures 
of  wisdom  and  knowledge,'  Col.  ii.  3. 

Obs.  6.  From  that  let  him  ask,  God  will  have  everything  fetched 
out  by  prayer ;  he  giveth  nothing  without  asking.  It  is  one  of  the 
laws  according  to  which  heaven's  bounty  is  dispensed :  Ezek.  xxxvi. 
37,  '  I  will  be  sought  to  by  the  house  of  Israel  for  this  thing/  God 
will  have  us  see  the  author  of  every  mercy  by  the  way  of  obtaining 
it.  It  is  a  comfort  and  a  privilege  to  receive  mercies  in  a  way  of 
duty;  it  is  better  to  ask  and  not  receive,  than  to  receive  and  not  ask.1 
Prayer  coming  between  our  desires  and  the  bounty  of  God  is  a 
means  to  beget  a  due  respect  between  him  and  us:  every  audience 
increaseth  love,  thanks,  and  trust,  Ps.  cxvi.  1,  2.  We  usually  wear 
with  thanks  what  we  win  by  prayer ;  and  those  comforts  are  best  im 
proved  which  we  receive  upon  our  knees.  Well,  then,  wisdom  and 
every  good  gift  is  an  alms — you  have  it  for  the  asking.  Mercies  at 
'that  rate  do  not  cost  dear.  Oh  !  who  would  not  be  one  of  that 
number  whom  God  calleth  his  suppliants  ?  Zeph.  iii.  10  ;  of  '  the 
generation  of  them  that  seek  him '  ?  Ps.  xxiv.  6. 

Ols.  7.  Asking  yieldeth  a  remedy  for  the  greatest  wants.  Men  sit 
down  groaning  under  their  discouragements,  because  they  do  not  look 
further  than  themselves.  Oh  !  you  do  not  know  how  you  may  speed 
in  asking.  God  humbleth  us  with  much  weakness,  that  he  may  put 
us  upon  prayer.  That  is  easy  to  the  Spirit  which  is  hard  to  nature. 
God  requireth  such  obedience  as  is  above  the  power  of  our  natures, 
but  not  above  the  power  of  his  own  grace.  It  was  a  good  saying 
that,  Da  quodjubes,  et  jiibe  quod  vis — Give  what  thou  commandest, 
and  command  what  thou  wilt.  If  God  command  anything  above 
nature,  it  is  to  bring  you  upon  your  knees  for  grace.  He  loveth  to 
command  that  you  may  be  forced  to  ask;  and,  indeed,  if  God  hath 
commanded,  you  may  be  bold  to  ask.  There  is  a  promise  goeth 
hand-in-hand  with  every  precept :  (  Let  him  ask/ 

Obs.  8.  That  giveth.— God's  dispensations  to  the  creatures  are  car- 

1  Clem.  Alex.  lib.  vii.  Strom. 


ried  in  the  way  of  a  gift.  Who  can  make  God  his  debtor,  ad 
vantage  his  being,  or  perform  an  act  that  may  be  obliging  and 
meritorious  ?  Usually  God  bestoweth  most  upon  those  who,  in  the 
eye  of  the  world,  are  of  least  desert,  and  least  able  to  requite  him. 
Doth  not  he  invite  the  worst  freely  ?  Isa.  Iv.  1,  'He  that  hath  no 
money,  come  and  buy,  without  money  and  without  price.'  Nazianzen,1 
I  remember,  notably  improveth  this  place,  co  TT}?  eu^oX/a?  rov 
crvva\\dy]j,aTos — Oh,  this  easy  way  of  contract !  SlSao-iv  ijSiov  TJ 
\ayifi  avow  iv  eiepoi — he  giveth  more  willingly  than  others  sell ;  WVLOV 
crol  TO  6e\r/o-ai  povov  TO  a^aOov — if  thou  wilt  but  accept,  that  is  all  the 
price  ;  though  you  have  no  merits,  nothing  in  yourselves  to  encourage 
you,  yet  will  you  accept?  So  in  the  Gospel,  the  blind  and  the  lame 
were  called  to  the  wedding,  Mat.  xxii.  Whatever  is  dispensed  to 
such  persons  must  needs  be  a  gift.  Well,  then,  silence  all  secret 
thoughts,  as  if  God  did  see  more  in  you  than  others,  when  he 
poureth  out  more  of  himself  to  you.  Merit  is  so  gross  a  conceit,  that, 
in  the  light  of  the  gospel,  it  dareth  not  appear  in  so  many  downright 
words  ;  but  there  are  implicit  whisperings,  some  thoughts  which  are 
verba  mentis,  the  words  of  the  mind,  whereby  we  think  that  there  is 
some  reason  for  God's  choice ;  and  therefore  it  is  said,  Deut.  ix.  4, 
4  Say  not  in  thy  heart,  For  my  own  righteousness :  '  as  you  dare  not 
say  it  outwardly,  so  do  not  say  it  in  your  hearts.  Be  not  conscious 
to  the  sacrilege  of  a  privy  silent  thought  that  way. 

Obs.  9.  To  all  men.  The  proposals  of  God's  grace  are  very  general 
and  universal.  It  is  a  great  encouragement  that  in  the  offer  none  are 
excluded.  Why  should  we,  then,  exclude  ourselves?  Matt.  xi.  28, 
4  Come  unto  me,  all  ye  that  are  weary  and  heavy  laden/  Mark,  poor 
soul,  Jesus  Christ  maketh  no  exceptions.  He  did  not  except  thee  that 
hast  an  heavy  load  and  burden  of  guilt  upon  thy  back :  '  Come,  all  ye.' 
So  here ;  the  lack  is  general,  '  If  any  ; '  and  the  supply  is  general,  '  He 
giveth  to  all  men/  God  never  told  thee  that  this  was  never  intended 
to  thee,  and  that  thy  name  was  left  out  of  the  Lamb's  book.  And  it 
is  a  base  jealousy  to  mistrust  God  without  a  cause. 

Obs.  10.  From  that  liberally,  God's  gifts  are  free  and  liberal. 
Many  times  he  giveth  more  than  we  ask,  and  our  prayers  come  far 
short  of  what  grace  doth  for  us.  There  is  an  imperfect  modesty  in  our 
thoughts  and  requests.  We  are  not  able  to  rise  up  to  the  just  excess 
and  infiniteness  of  the  divine  goodness.  The  apostle  saith,  God  will 
'  do  above  what  we  can  ask  or  think,'  Eph.  iii.  20.  As  it  is  good  to  ob 
serve  how  the  answers  of  prayer  have  far  exceeded  the  desires  of  the 
creature,  which  usually  are  vast  and  capacious,  let  me  give  you  some 
instances.  Solomon  asked  wisdom,  and  God  gave  liberally  ;  he  gave 
him  wisdom,  and  riches,  and  honour  in  great  abundance,  1  Kings  iii. 
13.  Jacob  asked  but  food  and  raiment  for  his  journey,  and  God  multi- 
plieth  him  from  his  staff  into  two  bands,  Gen.  xxviii.  20,  with  xxxii. 
10.  Abraham  asked  but  one  son,  and  God  gave  him  issue  as  the  stars 
in  the  heavens,  and  the  sand  on  the  sea-shore.  Gen.  xv.  with  xxii.  Saul 
came  to  Samuel  for  the  asses,  and  he  heareth  news  of  a  kingdom.  The 
prodigal  thought  it  much  to  be  received  as  an  hired  servant,  and  the 
father  is  devising  all  the  honour  and  entertainment  that  possibly  he  can 

1  Greg.  Naz.  Orat.  40,  de  Baptismo,  circa  med. 

JAS.  I.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  43 

for  him  —  the  calf,  the  ring,  the  robe,  &c.,  Luke  xv.  In  Mat.  xviii.  26, 
the  debtor  desired  but  forbearance  for  a  little  time  :  '  Have  a  little 
patience,  and  I  will  pay  thee  all  :  '  and  in  the  next  verse  his  master 
'forgave  the  debt.'  Certainly  God's  bounty  is  too  large  for  our 
thoughts.  The  spouse  would  be  drawn  after  Christ,  but  the  King 
brought  her  into  his  chambers,  Cant.  i.  4.  David  desired  to  be  de 
livered  out  of  the  present  danger  :  Ps.  xxxi.  4,  '  Pull  me  out  of  the 
net  ;  '  and  God  advanced  him  to  honour  and  dignity  :  *  Thou  hast  put 
my  feet  in  a  large  room/  ver.  8.  Well,  then  :  (1.)  Do  not  straiten  God 
in  your  thoughts  :  *  Open  your  mouths,  and  I  will  fill  them,'  Ps.  Ixxxi. 
10.  God's  hand  is  open,  but  our  hearts  are  not  open.  The  divine 
grace,  like  the  olive-trees  in  Zechariah,  is  always  dropping  ;  but  we 
want  a  vessel.  That  expression  of  the  virgin  is  notable  :  Luke  i.  46, 
'  My  heart  doth  magnify  the  Lord/  peyaXvvei,  that  is,  make  more 
room  for  God  in  my  thoughts.  When  God's  bounty  is  not  only  ever- 
flowing,  but  overflowing,  we  should  make  our  thoughts  and  hopes  as 
large  and  comprehensive  as  possibly  they  can  be.  When  the  King  of 
glory  is  drawing  nigh,  they  are  bidden  to  set  open  the  doors,  Ps.  xxiv. 
7.  No  thoughts  of  ours  can  search  out  God  to  perfection  ;  that  is, 
exhaust  and  draw  out  all  the  excellency  and  glory  of  the  Godhead  ; 
but  certainly  we  should  rise  and  ascend  more  in  our  apprehensions. 
(2.)  Let  us  imitate  our  heavenly  Father,  give  liberally,  avrXw?  —  that 
is  the  word  of  the  text  —  with  a  free  and  a  native  bounty  :  give 
simply,  not  with  a  double  mind.  Some  men  have  a  backward  and  a 
close  heart,  liberal  only  in  promises.  Consider,  God  doth  not  feed 
you  with  empty  promises.  Others  eye  self  in  all  their  kindness,  make 
a  market  of  their  charity;1  this  is  not  simply,  and  according  to  the 
divine  pattern.  Some  men  give  grudgingly,  with  a  divided  mind,  half 
inclining,  half  forbearing  ;  this  is  not  like  God  neither.  Others  give 
in  guile,  and  to  deceive  men  ;  2  it  is  kindness  to  their  hurt,  £%>a  a^wpa, 
giftless  gifts  ;  —  their  courtesy  is  most  dangerous.3  Give  like  your 
heavenly  Father,  liberally,  simply. 

Obs.  11.  From  that  and  upbraidetli  not.  Men  are  apt  to  do  so,  but 
God  giveth  in  another  manner.  Observe  from  hence,  First,  in  the 
general,  that  God  giveth  quite  in  another  manner  than  man  doth.  It 
is  our  fault  to  measure  infiniteness  by  our  last,  and  to  muse  of  God 
according  as  we  use  ourselves.  The  soul,  in  all  her  conclusions,  is 
directed  by  principles  and  premises  of  sense  and  experience  ;  and 
because  we  converse  with  limited  natures  and  dispositions,  therefore 
we  do  not  form  proper  and  worthy  thoughts  of  God.  It  was  the  gross 
idolatry  of  the  heathens  to  '  turn  the  glory  of  the  incorruptible  God 
into  the  image  of  a  man/  Rom.  i.  23;  that  is,  to  fancy  God  according  to 
the  shape  and  figure  of  our  bodies.  And  so  it  is  the  spiritual  idolatry 
of  Christians  to  fancy  God  according  to  the  model  and  size  of  their  own 
minds  and  dispositions.  I  am  persuaded  there  doth  nothing  disadvan 
tage  us  so  much  in  believing  as  this  conceit  that  '  God  is  altogether 
like  ourselves/  Ps.  1.  21.  We,  being  of  eager  and  revengeful  spirits, 
cannot  believe  his  patience  and  pardoning  mercy  ;  and  that,  I  suppose, 

TJ  "X.O-PLV  iroiovcriv.'  —  Isocrates. 
2  '  Non  est  sportula  quce  negotiatur.'  —  Martial. 
8  Timeo  Danaos,  et  dona  ferentes. 


was  the  reason  why  the  apostles  (when  Christ  talked  of  forgiving  our 
brother  seven  times  in  one  day),  cried  out,  Luke  xvii.  5,  '  Lord,  in 
crease  our  faith/  as  not  being  able  to  believe  so  great  a  pardoning 
mercy  either  in  themselves  or  God.  And  therefore,  also,  I  suppose  it 
is  that  God  doth  with  such  veheinency  show  everywhere  that  his  heart 
hath  other  manner  of  dispositions  than  man's  hath  :  Isa.  Iv.  8,  9,  'My 
thoughts  are  not  as  your  thoughts,  nor  my  ways  as  your  ways  ;  as  far 
as  the  heavens  are  above  the  earth,  so  are  my  thoughts  above  your 
thoughts  : '  I  am  not  straitened  in  bowels,  nor  hardened,  nor  implacable, 
as  men  are  ;  as  there  is  a  vast  space  and  distance  between  the  earth 
and  the  firmament,  so  between  your  drop  and  my  ocean.  So  Hosea  xi. 
9,  '  I  am  God,  and  not  man  ;  and  therefore  Ephraim  shall  not  be  de 
stroyed  ; '  that  is,  I  have  not  such  a  narrow  heart,  such  wrathful  im 
placable  dispositions  as  men  have.  Well,  then,  consider^  when  God 
giveth,  he  will  give  like  himself.  Do  not  measure  him  by  the 
wretched  straitness  of  your  own  hearts,  and  confine  God  within  the 
circle  of  the  creatures.  It  is  said  of  Araunah  that  he  gave  as  a  king 
to  David,  2  Sam.  xxiv.  23.  Whatever  God  doth,  he  will  do  as  a  God, 
above  the  rate  and  measure  of  the  creatures,  something  befitting  the 
infiniteness  and  eternity  of  his  own  essence. 

Obs.  12.  From  the  same  clause,  upbraideth  not,  you  may  more 
particularly  observe,  that  God  doth  not  reproach  his  people  with  the 
frequency  of  their  addresses  to  him  for  mercy,  and  is  never  weary 
doing  them  good.  It  is  man's  use  to  excuse  himself  by  what  he  hath 
done  already.  They  will  recount  their  former  favours  to  deny  the 
present  requests.  Men's  stock  is  soon  spent ;  they  waste  by  giving, 
and  therefore  they  soon  grow  weary.  Yea,  we  are  afraid  to  press  a  friend 
too  much,  lest,  by  frequent  use,  kindness  be  worn  out.  You  know  it 
is  Solomon's  advice,  Prov.  xxv,  17,  '  Let  thy  foot  be  seldom  in  thy 
neighbour's  house,  lest  he  be  weary  of  thee,  and  so  hate  thee/  Thus 
it  is  with  men ;  either  oat  of  penury  or  satiety,  they  are  soon  full  of 
their  friends.  But  oh !  what  a  difference  there  is  between  our  earthly 
and  our  heavenly  friend.  The  oftener  we  come  to  God,  the  welcomer ; 
and  the  more  we  '  acquaint  ourselves  with  him/  the  more  '  good 
cometh  to  us/  Job  xxii.  21.  His  gates  are  always  open,  and  he  is  still 
ready  to  receive  us.  We  need  not  be  afraid  to  urge  God  to  the  next 
act  of  love  and  kindness :  2  Cor.  i.  10,  '  Who  delivered  us  from  so 
great  a  death,  and  doth  deliver ;  in  whom  we  trust  that  he  will  yet 
deliver  us.'  One  mercy  is  but  a  step  to  another,  and  if  God  hath,  we 
may  again  trust  that  he  ivitt.  With  men,  renewed  addresses  and  often 
visitings  are  but  impudence,  but  with  God  they  are  confidence.  God  is 
so  far  from  upbraiding  us  with  what  he  hath  done  already,  that  his 
people  make  it  their  usual  argument,  '  He  hath  delivered  me  from  the 
lion  and  the  bear,  therefore  he  shall  from  the  uncircumcised  Philistine/ 
1  Sam.  xvii.  37.  Well,  then  :  (1.)  Whenever  you  receive  mercy  upon 
mercy,  give  the  Lord  the  praise  of  his  unwearied  love.  When  God 
promised  to  keep  up  honour  upon  honour,  and  privilege  upon  privilege 
on  David  and  his  line,  David  saith,  2  Sam.  vii.  19,  '  And  is  this  the 
manner  of  man,  0  Lord  God  ? '  Would  man  do  thus  ?  Is  this  ac 
cording  to  his  use  and  custom,  to  grant  request  after  request,  and  to 
let  his  grace  run  in  the  same  eternal  tenor  of  love  and  sweetness  ? 

JAS.  I.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  45 

Should  we  .go  to  man  as  often  as  we  go  to  God,  we  should  soon  have  a 
repulse,  but  we  cannot  weary  infiniteness.  (2.)  If  God  be  not  weary  of 
blessing  you,  be  not  you  weary  of  serving  him.  Duty  is  the  proper  cor 
relate  of  mercy.  God  is  not  weary  of  blessing,  so  be  not  you  '  weary  of 
well-doing,'  Gal.  vi.  9.  Let  not  your  zeal  and  heat  be  spent,  as  his 
bounty  is  not. 

Obs.  13.  From  that  and  it  shall  be  given  him.  Due  asking  will 
prevail  with  God.  God  always  satisfieth  prayer,  though  he  doth  not 
always  satisfy  carnal  desires  :  '  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given  you  ;  seek, 
and  ye  shall  find ;  knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened  to  you,'  Mat.  vii.  7. 
If  we  do  not  receive  at  asking,  let  us  go  to  seeking  ;  if  not  at  seeking, 
let  us  go  on  to  knocking.  It  is  good  to  continue  fervency  till  we  have 
an  answer.  But  you  will  say,  Are  these  promises  true  ?  The  sons  of 
Zebedee,  they  asked,  and  could  not  find,  Mat.  xx.  22.  The  foolish 
virgins,  they  knocked,  and  it  was  not  opened  to  them,  Mat.  xxv.  8.  So 
the  church  seeketh  Christ  :*Cant  iii.  1,  '  By  night  on  my  bed  I  sought 
him  whom  my  soul  loveth  ;  I  sought  him,  and  found  him  not.'  How, 
then,  can  these  words  of  Christ  be  made  good?  I  shall  answer  by 
stating  the  general  case.  Prayers  rightly  qualified  want  not  success  ; 
that  is,  if  they  come  from  a  holy  heart,  in  a  holy  manner,  to  a  holy 
purpose.  I  remember  one  prettily  summeth  up  all  the  requisites  of 
prayer  thus,  Si  bonum  petant  boni,  bene,  ad  bonum.1  These  are  the 
limitations:  (1.)  Concerning  the  person.  God  looketh after,  not  only 
the  property  of  the  prayer,  but  the  propriety  and  interest  of  the  person. 
Our  apostle,  chap.  v.  16, '  The  effectual  fervent  prayer  of  a  righteous 
man  availeth  much,'  Se^crt?  evepyov/^evrj — a  prayer  driven  with  much 
force  and  vehemency  ;  but  it  must  be  of  a  righteous  person.  The 
Jews  propound  it  as  a  known  rule,  John  ix.  31,  *  God  heareth  not 
sinners.'  It  is  so  frequently  inculcated  in  scripture,  that  they  urge 
it  as  a  proverb — An  unclean  person  polluteth  his  own  prayers.  But  of 
this  hereafter.  (2.)  That  which  they  ask  must  be  good :  1  John  v. 
14,  '  Whatever  we  ask  according  to  his  will,  he  heareth  us/  It  must 
be  according  to  his  revealed  will,  that  is  obedience  ;  and  with  submis 
sion  to  his  secret  will,  that  is  patience — neither  according  to  our  own 
lusts,  nor  our  own  fancies.  To  ask  according  to  our  lusts  is  an  im 
plicit  blasphemy,  like  Balaam's  sacrifices,  performed  out  of  a  hope  to 
draw  heaven  into  the  confederacy  of  his  cursed  designs.  And  to  make 
our  fancy  the  highest  rule  is  a  presumptuous  folly.  God  knoweth  what 
is  best  for  us.  Like  children,  we  desire  a  knife  ;  like  a  wise  Father  he 
giveth  us  bread.  God  always  heareth  his  people  when  the  request  is 
good.  But  we  must  remember  God  must  judge  what  is  good,  not  we 
ourselves.  There  cannot  be  a  greater  judgment  than  always  to  have 
our  own  will  granted.2  (3.)  We  must  ask  in  a  right  manner,  with  faith, 
as  in  the  next  verse ;  with  fervency,  see  chap.  v.  16  ;  with  patience  and 
constancy,  waiting  for  God's  time  and  leisure.  God's  discoveries  of 
himself  are  not  by-aiid-by  to  the  creature.  A  sack  stretched  out  con- 

1  Grotius  in  Annot.  in  Mat.  xviii.  19. 

2  '  Sancti  ad  salutem  per  omnia  exaudiuntur,  sed  non  ad  voluntatem,  ad  voluntatem 
etiam  Dsemones  exauditi  sunt,  etad  porcos  quos  petiverant  ire  missi  sunt.' — Aug.  in  Epist. 
Johan.  tract.  6.     So  also  (Serm.  53,  de  Verbis  Domini),  '  Quid  prosit  medicus  novit,  non 


taineth  the  more ;  and  when  the  desires  are  extended  and  drawn  out 
to  God,  the  mercy  is  usually  the  greater  :  Ps.  xl.  1,  'I  waited  patiently 
for  the  Lord,  and  he  inclined  unto  me,  and  heard  my  cry/  God  loveth 
to  dispense  mercies  after  our  waiting.  (4.)  It  must  be  ad  lonum  ;  you 
must  pray  to  a  good  end,  with  an  aim  and  reference  to  the  Lord's  glory. 
There  is  a  difference  between  a  carnal  desire  and  a  gracious  supplica 
tion  :  James  iv.  3,  '  You  ask  and  have  not,  because  you  ask  amiss,  to 
spend  it  on  your  lusts/  Never  let  your  requests  terminate  in  self.  That 
was  but  a  brutish  request,  Exod.  xvii.  2,  '  Give  us  water  that  we  may 
drink/  A  beast  can  aim  at  self-preservation.  Prayer,  as  every  act  of 
the  Christian  life,  must  have  an  ordination  to  God.  Well,  then,  pray 
thus,  and  you  shall  be  sure  to  speed.  Carnal  requests  are  often  dis 
appointed,  and  therefore  we  suspect  gracious  prayers,  and  faith  is 
much  shaken  by  the  disappointment  of  a  rash  confidence.  Consider 
that,  John  xvi.  23,  '  Verily,  verily,  I  say  unto  you,  whatsoever  you  ask 
the  Father  in  my  name,  he  shall  give  it  you/  Mark,  Christ  speaketh 
universally,  '  whatsoever/  to  raise  our  hopes ;  earnestly,  '  verily, 
verily/  to  encourage  our  faith.  We  are  apt  to  disbelieve  such  promises. 

Obs.  14.  Lastly,  from  that  it  shall  be  given.  He  bringeth  an 
encouragement  not  only  from  the  nature  of  God,  but  the  promise  of 
God.  It  is  an  encouragement  in  prayer,  when  we  consider  there  is 
not  only  bounty  in  God,  but  bounty  engaged  by  promise.  What  good 
will  the  general  report  do  without  a  particular  invitation  ?  There  is 
a  rich  King  giveth  freely ;  ay  !  but  he  giveth  at  pleasure ;  no,  he  hath 
promised  to  give  to  thee.  The  psalmist  argueth  from  God's  nature, 
*  Thou  art  good,  and  dost  good/  Ps.  cxix.  68.  But  from  the  promise 
we  may  reason  thus,  '  Thou  art  good,  and  shalt  do  good/  God  at 
large,  and  discovered  to  you  in  loose  attributes,  doth  not  yield  a  suffi 
cient  foundation  for  trust ;  but  God  in  covenant,  God  as  ours.  Well, 
then,  let  the  world  think  what  it  will  of  prayer,  it  is  not  a  fruitless 
labour :  you  have  promises  for  prayer,  and  promises  to  prayer ;  and 
therefore  when  you  pray  for  a  blessing  promised,  God  doth,  as  it  were, 
come  under  another  engagement :  '  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given/ 

Ver.  6.  But  let  him  ask  in  faith,  nothing  ivavering ;  for  he  that 
wavereth  is  like  a  wave  of  the  sea,  driven  with  the  ivind  and  tossed. 

Here  he  proposeth  a  caution,  to  prevent  mistakes  about  what  he  had 
delivered :  every  asking  will  not  serve  the  turn ;  it  must  be  an  asking 
in  faith. 

But  let  him  ask  in  faith. — Faith  may  be  taken — (1.)  For  confidence 
in  God,  or  an  act  of  particular  trust,  as  Eph.  iii.  12 :'  We  have  bold 
ness  and  access  with  confidence  through  the  faith  of  him/  (2.)  It  may 
import  persuasion  of  the  lawfulness  of  the  things  that  we  ask  for ;  that  is 
one  acceptation  of  faith  in  scripture,  Kom.  xiv.  23  :  '  Whatever  is  not 
of  faith,  is  sin ; '  that  is,  if  we  practise  it  before  we  are  persuaded  of 
the  lawfulness  of  it.  Or,  (3.)  In  faith,  that  is,  in  a  state  of  believing ; 
for  God  will  hear  none  but  his  own,  those  that  have  interest  in  Jesus 
Christ,  '  in  whom  the  promises  are  yea  and  amen/  2  Cor.  i.  20.  All 
these  senses  are  considerable,  but  I  think  the  first  is  most  direct  and 
formal ;  for  faith  is  here  opposed  to  doubting  and  wavering,  and  so 
noteth  a  particular  act  of  trust. 

Nothing  wavering,  ^ev  Siatcpivopwo?.— What  is  this  wavering  f 

JAS.  I.  6.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  47 

The  word  signifieth  not  disputing  or  traversing  the  matter  as  doubt 
ful  in  the  thoughts.  The  same  phrase  is  used  Acts  x.  20,  *  Arise,  go 
with  them,  jArjSev  Sia/cpivo/jLevos,  nothing  doubting ; '  that  is,  do  not 
stand  disputing  in  thy  thoughts  about  thy  calling  and  the  good  suc 
cess  of  it.  The  word  is  often  used  in  the  matter  of  believing ;  as  Rom. 
iv.  20,  'He  staggered  not  through  unbelief;  in  the  original  ov 
8i€KpL0rjt  'He  disputed  not/  did  not  debate  the  matter,  but  settled 
his  heart  upon  God's  power  and  promise :  Mat.  xxi.  21 :  'If  ye  have 
faith,  and  doubt  not,  ye  shall  say  to  this  mountain,  Be  thou  removed 
into  the  depths  of  the  sea/  &c.  If  they  could  but  remove  the  anxious- 
ness  and  uncertainty  of  their  thoughts,  and  settle  their  hearts  upon 
the  warrant,  they  should  do  miracles. 

For  lie  that  doubtetli  is  like  a  wave  of  the  sea,  that  is  tossed  to  and 
fro. — An  elegant  similitude  to  set  out  their  estate,  used  by  common 
authors  in  the  same  matter,1  and  by  the  prophet  Isaiah,  chap.  Ivii. 
20.  James  saith  here,  the  doubter,  eouee  K\vBa>vt,,  is  '  like  a  wave  of 
the  sea ; '  and  the  prophet  saith  of  all  wicked  men,  K\v8ovi(r6)ja-ovTat 
(as  the  Septuagint  render  it),  '  These  shall  be  like  troubled  waves, 
whose  waters  cannot  rest/ 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  trial  of  a  true  prayer  is  the  faith  of  it.  Cursory 
requests  are  made  out  of  fashion,  not  in  faith ;  men  pray,  but  do  not 
consider  the  bounty  of  him  to  whom  they  pray :  prayer  is  a  means, 
not  a  task ;  therefore,  in  prayer  there  should  be  distinct  reflections 
upon  the  success  of  it.  Well,  then,  look  to  your  prayers  ;  see  you  put 
them  up  with  a  particular  hope  and  trust ;  all  the  success  lieth  on 
that :  '  0  woman  I  great  is  thy  faith ;  be  it  to  thee  as  thou  wilt/ 
Mat.  xv.  28  :  God  can  deny  faith  nothing ;  '  Be  it  to  you  as  you  will/ 
So  Mark  xi.  24,  '  Whatsoever  things  ye  desire  when  ye  pray,  believe 
that  ye  shall  receive  them,  and  ye  shall  have  them/  Mark  that,  '  Be 
lieve,  and  ye  shall  have/  God's  attributes,  when  they  are  glorified, 
they  are  exercised,  and  by  our  trust  his  truth  and  power  is  engaged. 
But  you  will  say,  How  shall  we  do  to  pray  in  faith  ?  I  answer — There 
is  something  presupposed,  and  that  is  an  interest  in  Christ.  But  that 
which  is  required  in  every  prayer  is : — 

1.  An  actual  reliance  upon  the  grace  and  merits  of  Jesus  Christ : 
Eph.  ii.  18,  '  Through  him  we  have  access  with  confidence  unto  the 
Father/  We  cannot  lift  up  a  thought  of  hope  and  trust  but  by  him. 
If  you  have  not  assurance,  yet  go  out  of  yourselves,  and  look  for  your 
acceptance  in  his  merits.  Certainly  this  must  be  done ;  none  can  pray 
aright  but  believers.  How  can  they  comfortably  be  persuaded  of  a 
blessing,  that  have  never  a  promise  belonging  to  them  ?  Therefore, 
at  least  you  must  honour  Christ  in  the  duty  :  you  must  see  that  such 
worthless  creatures  as  you  may  be  accepted  in  him  :  Heb.  iv.  16,  '  Let 
us  therefore  come  boldly  to  the  throne  of  grace,  that  we  may  obtain 
mercy,  and  find  help  in  time  of  need/  Through  Christ  we  may  come 
freely  and  boldly :  I  am  a  sinner,  but  Jesus  Christ,  my  intercessor,  is 
righteous.  Men  will  say,  they  do  not  doubt  of  God,  but  of  them 
selves  :  I  am  a  wretched  sinner,  will  the  Lord  hear  me  ?  I  answer — 

1  '  Turbo  quidam  animos  nostros  rotat,  et  involvit  f ugientes  petentesque  eadeni,  et 
nunc  in  sublime  allevatos,  nunc  in  infima  allisos  rapit.' — Seneca  de  Vita  Beata. 


This  is  but  Satan's  policy  to  make  us  say  we  doubt  of  ourselves^  not 
of  God ;  for,  in  effect,  it  is  a  doubting  of  God ;  of  his  mercy,  as  if  it 
were  not  free  enough  to  pardon  and  save ;  of  his  power,  as  if  it  were 
not  great  enough  to  help.  We  must  come  humbly ;  we  are  sinners  : 
but  we  must  come  in  faith  also;  Christ  is  a  Saviour:  it  is  our  folly, 
under  colour  of  humbling  ourselves,  to  have  low  thoughts  of  God.  If 
we  had  skill,  we  should  see  that  all  graces,  like  the  stones  in  the 
building,  have  a  marvellous  symmetry  and  compliance  one  with 
another ;  and  we  may  come  humbly,  yet  boldly  in  Christ. 

2.  We  must  put  up  no  prayer  but  what  we  can  put  up  in  faith  : 
prayer  must  be  regulated  by  faith,  and  faith  must  not  wander  out  of 
the  limits  of  the  word.    If  you  have  a  promise,  you  may  be  confident 
that  your  requests  will  be  heard,  though  in  God's  season :  you  cannot 
put  up  a  carnal  desire  in  faith.    The  apostle's  words  are  notably  perti 
nent  to  state  this  matter :  1  John  v.  14,  '  This  is  the  confidence  that 
we  have  concerning  him,  that  if  we  ask  anything  according  to  his  will, 
he  heareth  us.'     All  things  are  to  be  asked  in  faith;  some  things 
absolutely,   as  spiritual   blessings, — I   mean,  as  considered  in   their 
essence,  not  degree.     Degrees  are  arbitrary.     Other  things  condition 
ally,  as  outward  blessings.    Let  the  prayer  be  according  to  the  word, 
and  the  success  will  be  according  to  the  prayer. 

3.  The  soul  must  actually  magnify  God's  attributes  in  every  prayer, 
and  distinctly  urge  them  against  the  present  doubt  and  fear.    Usually 
we  do  not  doubt  for  want  of  a  clear  promise,  but  out  of  low  thoughts 
of  God ;  we  cannot  carry  his  love,  power,  truth,  above  the  present 
temptation,  and  believe  that  there  is  love  enough  to  justify  us  from 
so  many  sins,  power  enough  to  deliver  us  from  so  great  a  death  or 
danger,  2  Cor.  i.  10 ;  and  bounty  enough  to  bestow  so  great  a  mercy. 
This  is  to  pray  in  faith,  to  form  proper  and  right  thoughts  of  God  in 
prayer,  when  we  see  there  is  enough  to  answer  the  particular  doubt 
and  exigency :  as  Mat.  viii.  28,  29,  Jesus  saith  to  the  two  blind  men, 
'  Believe  ye  that  I  am  able  to  do  this  ?  and  they  said,  Yea,  Lord : 
then  touched  he  their  eyes,  saying,  According  to  your  faith,  be  it  unto 
you.'     Christ  asked  first  whether  they  had  a  right  estimation  of  his 
power,  and  then,  in  the  next  place,  he  calleth  it  faith,  and  gave  them 
the  blessing.     Those  that  come  to  God  had  need  conceive  rightly  of 
him  ;  Christ  requireth  nothing  more  of  the  blind  man  but  a  sealing 
to  the  greatness  of  his  power.    'Believest  thou  that  I  am  able?' 
*  Yea,  Lord ; '  and  that  was  all.     But  you  will  say,  Tell  us  more  dis 
tinctly,  what  faith  is  required  in  every  prayer  ?     I  answer — The  ques 
tion  has  been  in  a  great  part  already  answered. 

But,  for  further  satisfaction,  take  these  rules : — [1.]  That  where  we 
have  a  certain  promise,  we  must  no  way  doubt  of  his  will ;  for  the 
doubt  must  either  proceed  from  a  suspicion  that  this  is  not  the  word 
or  will  of  God,  and  that  is  atheism  ;  or  from  a  jealousy  that  God  will 
not.  make  good  his  word,  and  that  is  blasphemy  ;  or  a  fear  that  he  is 
not  able  to  accomplish  his  will,  and  that  is  downright  distrust  and 
unbelief.  Therefore,  where  we  have  a  clear  sight  of  his  will  in  the 
promise,  we  may  have  a  confidence  towards  him,  1  John  v.  14. 

[2.]  Where  we  have  no  certain  assurance  of  his  will,  the  work  of  faith 
is  to  glorify  and  apply  his  power.  Unbelief  stumbleth  most  at  that, 

JAS.  I.  6.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  49 

rather  at  God's  can  than  will ;  as  appeareth  partly  by  experience. — 
Fears  come  upon  us  only  when  means  fail  and  the  blessings  expected 
are  most  unlikely ;  which  argueth  that  it  is  not  the  uncertainty  of  God's 
will,  but  the  misconceit  of  his  power,  that  maketh  u»  doubt.  The  pre 
sent  dangers  arid  difficulties  surprise  us  with  such  a  terror  that  we 
cannot  comfortably  use  the  help  of  prayer  out  of  a  faith  in  God's 
power : — partly  by  the  testimony  of  the  scriptures.  Search,  and  you 
shall  find  that  God's  power  and  all-sufficiency  is  the  first  ground  and 
reason  of  faith.  Abraham  believed,  because  '  God  was  able  to  per 
form/  Kom.  iv.  21.  And  that  unbelief  expresseth  itself  in  such 
language  as  implieth  a  plain  distrust  of  God's  power ;  as  Ps.  Ixxviii. 
19,  '  Can  the  Lord  prepare  a  table  in  the  wilderness  ?'  It  is  not  ivill, 
but  can :  2  Kings  vii.  2,  '  If  the  Lord  should  open  the  windows  of 
heaven,  how  can  this  be  ?'  So  the  Virgin  Mary  :  Luke  i.  34,  '  How 
can  these  things  be  ? '  and  so  in  many  other  instances.  Men  deceive 
themselves  when  they  think  they  doubt  because  they  know  not  the 
will  of  God :  their  main  hesitancy  is  at  his  power.  Look,  as  in  the 
case  of  conversion,  we  pretend  a  cannot,  when  indeed  we  will  not; l  so, 
oppositely,  in  the  case  of  faith,  we  pretend  we  know  not  God's  will, 
when  we  indeed  doubt  of  his  can.  Therefore  the  main  work  of  your 
faith  is  to  give  him  the  glory  of  his  power,  leaving  his  will  to  himself. 
Christ  putteth  you,  as  he  did  the  blind  men  (Mat.  ix.  28),  to  the 
question,  '  Am  I  able  ?'  Your  souls  must  answer,  *  Yea,  Lord.'  And 
in  prayer  you  must  come  as  the  leper :  Mat.  viii.  2,  '  Lord,  if  thou 
wilt,  thou  canst  make  me  clean/  Whether  he  grant  you  or  not, 
believe ;  that  is,  say  in  your  thoughts,  Lord,  thou  canst. 

[3.]  In  these  cases,  his  power  is  not  only  to  be  glorified,  but  also  his 
love.  But  you  will  say,  in  an  uncertain  case,  How  must  we  glorify 
his  love?  I  answer — Two  ways;  faith  hath  a  double  work.  (1.) 
To  compose  the  soul  to  a  submission  to  God's  pleasure.  He  is  so 
good,  that  you  may  refer  yourself  to  his  goodness.  Whether  he  grant 
or  not,  he  is  a  wise  God  and  a  loving  father,  and  will  do  what  is  best ; 
so  that,  you  see,  in  no  case  we  must  dispute,  but  refer  ourselves  to 
God,  as  the  leper  was  not  troubled  about  God's  will,  but  said,  'Lord, 
thou  canst/  Cast  yourselves  upon  his  will,  but  conjure  him  by  his 
power  ;  this  is  the  true  and  genuine  working  of  faith.  When  you 
dare  leave  your  case  with  God's  love,  '  let  him  do  what  seemeth  good 
in  his  eyes,'  good  he  will  do  ;  as  in  scripture  the  children  of  God  in 
all  temporal  matters  do  resign  themselves  to  his  disposal,  for  they 
know  his  heart  is  full  of  love,  and  that  is  best  which  their  heavenly 
Father  thinketh  best,  and  this  taketh  off  the  disquiet  and  perplexity  of 
the  spirit :  Prov.  xvi.  3,  '  Commit  thy  works  unto  the  Lord,  and  thy 
thoughts  shall  be  established/  They  wait  with  serenity  when  they 
have  committed  their  works  to  God's  will  with  submission.  (2.)  To 
incline  and  raise  the  soul  into  some  hope  of  the  mercy  prayed  for. 
Hope  is  the  fountain  of  endeavours,  and  we  should  neither  pray  nor 
wait  upon  God  were  it  not  that  we  may  look  up  to  him  because  there 
is  hope,  Lam.  iii.  29.  The  hypocrite's  prejudice  was,  *  It  is  in  vain 
to  seek  God/  Job  xxi.  15.  There  are  some  particular  promises,  you 
know,  concerning  preservation  in  times  of  pestilence,  oppression, 

1  '  Non  posse  praetenditur,  non  velle  in  causa  est.' — Seneca. 
VOL.  IV.  D 


famine,  &c.  (Mai.  iii.  14),  which,  though  they  are  not  always  made 
good  in  the  rigour  of  the  letter,  yet  they  are  in  a  great  measure  ful 
filled,  and  eVl  TO  TrXeto-roz^,  for  the  most  part  take  place.  I  say,  though 
they  are  to  be  expounded  with  the  exception  and  reservation  of  the 
cross  (for  God  is  no  further  obliged  than  he  is  obliged  by  the  covenant 
of  grace,  and  in  the  covenant  of  grace  he  hath  still  kept  a  liberty  of 
'  visiting  their  iniquity  with  rods,'  Ps.  Ixxxix.  33),  yet  because  the 
children  of  God  have  many  experiences  of  their  accomplishment,  they 
cannot  choose  but  conceive  some  hope  towards  God,  and  incline  rather 
to  think  that  God  will  grant.  The  least  that  these  promises  do  is  to 
beget  some  loose  hope,  they  being  so  express  to  our  case,  and  being  so 
often  accomplished.  Nay,  how  can  we  urge  these  in  prayer  to  a  good 
God,  and  not  say,  as  David,  '  Remember  thy  word  unto  thy  servant, 
wherein  thou  hast  caused  rne  to  hope/  Ps.  cxix.  49  ?  I  do  not  say  we 
should  prescribe  to  God,  and  limit  his  will  to  our  thoughts,  but  only 
conceive  a  hope  with  submission,  because  of  the  general  reservation 
of  the  cross. 

[4.]  Some,  that  have  more  near  communion  with  God,  may  have  a 
particular  faith  of  some  particular  occurrences.  By  some  special 
instincts  in  prayer  from  the  Spirit  of  God  they  have  gone  away  and 
said  with  David,  Ps.  xxvii.  3,  '  In  this  I  will  be  confident/  I  do 
not  say  it  is  usual,  but  sometimes  it  may  be  so  ;  we  cannot  abridge 
the  Spirit  of  his  liberty  of  revealing  himself  to  his  people.  But, 
remember,  privileges  do  not  make  rules  ;  these  are  acts  of  God's 
prerogative,  not  according  to  his  standing  law  and  rule.  However, 
this  I  conceive  is  common :  that,  in  a  particular  case,  we  may  conceive 
the  more  hope,  when  our  hearts  have  been  drawn  out  to  God  by  an 
actual  trust ;  that  is,  when  we  have  urged  a  particular  promise  to  God 
in  prayer  with  submission,  yet  with  hope ;  for  God  seldom  faileth  a 
trusting  soul.  They  may  lay  hold  on  God  by  virtue  of  a  double 
claim ;  partly  by  virtue  of  the  single  promise  that  first  invited  them 
to  God,  and  then  by  virtue  of  another  promise  made  to  their  trust ; 
as  Isa.  xxvi.  3,  '  Thou  keepest  him  in  perfect  peace  who  putteth  his 
trust  in^thee,  because  he  trusteth  in  thee/  An  ingenious  man  will  not 
disappoint  trust ;  and  God  saith,  eo  nomine,  for  that  reason,  because 
they  trust  in  him,  he  will  do  them  good;  therefore,  now  having 
glorified  God's  power,  and  with  hope  referred  themselves  to  his  will, 
they  have  a  new  argument  of  hope  within  themselves.  It  is  notable 
that  in  Ps.  xci.  2,  3,  there  is  a  dialogue  between  the  Spirit  of  God  and 
a  believing  soul.  The  soul  saith,  '  I  will  say  of  the  Lord,  he  is  my 
refuge  and  my  fortress,  my  God ;  in  him  will  I  trust/  There  is  a 
resolution  of  a  humble  and  actual  trust.  The  Spirit  answereth, 
yer.  3,  '  Surely  he  shall  deliver  thee  from  the  snare  of  the  fowler,  and 
from  a  noisome  pestilence/  There  is  a  promise  under  an  averment, 
surely,  which  certainly  would  do  nothing,  if  it  did  not  at  the  least 
draw  out  the  more  hope. 

Thus  I  have  given  you  my  thoughts  of  this  common  and  useful 
case, — praying  in  faith. 

Obs.  2.  From  that  nothing  wavering,  or  disputing,  as  it  is  in  the 
original,  man's  nature  is  much  given  to  disputes  against  the  grace 
and  promises  of  God.  The  pride  of  reason  will  not  stoop  to  a  re  vela- 

JAS.  I.  6.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  51 

tion  ;  and  where  we  have  no  assurance  but  the  divine  testimony,  there 
we  are  apt  to  cavil.  All  doubts  are  but  disputes  against  a  promise ; 
therefore  what  is  said  in  our  translation,  '  Lift  up  pure  hands,  without 
wrath  and  doubting'  (1  Tim.  ii.  8),  is  in  the  original  %o>/ot?  &aXo7io-//,ou, 
without  reasoning  or  dispute.  A  sure  word  is  committed  to  the 
uncertainty  of  our  thoughts  and  debates,  and  God's  promises  ascited 
before  the  tribunal  of  our  reason.  Well,  then,  cast  down  those  \OJLO-- 
povs,  those  imaginations,  or  reasonings  rather  (for  so  the  word  pro 
perly  signifieth),  which  exalt  themselves  against  the  knowledge  of  God 
in  Christ.  Carnal  reason  is  faith's  worst  enemy.  It  is  a  great  advan 
tage  when  we  can  make  reason,  that  is  an  enemy  to  faith,  to  be  a 
servant  to  it;  \oyi%€a-6e,  saith  the  apostle:  Kom.  vi.  11,  '  Beckon,  or 
reason  yourselves  to  be  dead  to  sin,  and  alive  to  God.'  Then  is  our 
reason  and  discourse  well  employed,  when  it  serveth  to  set  on  and  urge 
conclusions  of  faith. 

Obs.  3.  From  the  same — That  the  less  we  doubt,  the  more  we  come 
up  to  the  nature  of  true  faith.  The  use  of  grace  is  to  settle  the  heart 
upon  God  ;  to  be  fast  and  loose  argueth  weakness  :  '  Why  doubt  ye, 
0  ye  of  little  faith  ?'  I  do  not  say  it  is  no  faith,  but  it  is  a  weak 
faith :  a  trembling  hand  may  hold  somewhat,  but  faintly.  Well,  then, 
seek  to  lay  aside  your  doubts  and  carnal  debates,  especially  in  prayer  ; 
corne  '  without  wrath  and  doubting : '  without  wrath  to  a  God  of  peace, 
without  doubting  to  a  God  of  mercy.  Do  not  debate  whether  it  be 
better  to  cast  yourselves  upon  God's  promise  and  disposal,  or  to  leave 
yourselves  to  your  own.  carnal  care  ;  that  is  no  faith  when  the  heart 
wavereth  between  hopes  and  fears,  help  and  God.  Our  Saviour  saith, 
Luke  xii.  29,  fjurj  f^erewpi^eo-de,  '  Be  not  of  doubtful  mind,  what  ye 
shall  eat  and  drink  ; '  do  not  hang  between  two,  like  a  meteor  hovering 
in  the  air  (so  the  word  signifieth),  not  knowing  what  God  will  do  for 
you.  A  thorough  belief  of  God's  attributes,  as  revealed  in  Christ, 
taketh  off  all  disquiets  and  perplexities  of  spirit.  Well,  then,  get  a 
clear  interest  in  Christ,  and  a  more  distinct  apprehension  of  God's 
attributes.  Ignorance  perplexeth  us,  and  filleth  the  soul  with  misty 
dark  reasonings ;  but  faith  settleth  the  soul,  and  giveth  it  a  greater 

Obs.  4.  From  that  like  a  wave  of  the  sea,  tossed  to  and  fro, 
doubts  are  perplexing,  and  torment  the  mind.  An  unbeliever  is  like 
the  waves  of  the  sea,  always  rolling ;  but  a  believer  is  like  a  tree, 
much  shaken,  but  firm  at  root.  We  are  under  misery  and  bondage 
as  long  as  we  are  tossed  upon  the  waves  of  our  own  affections ;  and 
till  faith  giveth  a  certainty,  there  is  no  rest  and  peace  in  the  soul : 
*  Keturn  to  thy  rest,  0  my  soul,  for  the  Lord  hath  dealt  bountifully  with 
thee/  Ps.  cxvi.  7.  Faith  shedding  abroad  God's  love  in  our  sense 
and  feeling,  begetteth  a  calm :  they  that  teach  a  doctrine  of  doubting 
— exercent  carnificinam  animarum,  saith  Calvin — they  do  but  keep  con 
science  upon  the  rack,  and  leave  men  to  the  torment  of  their  own  dis 
tracted  thoughts.  Romish  locusts  are  like  scorpions  (Rev.  ix.  10),  with 
'  stings  in  their  tails  ; '  and  '  men  shall  desire  death'  (ver.  6)  that  are 
stung  with  them.  Antichristian  doctrines  yield  no  comfort  and  ease 
to  the  conscience,  but  rather  sting  it  and  wound  it,  that,  to  be  freed 
from  their  anxiety,  men  would  desire  to  die.  Certainly  there  cannot 


be  a  greater  misery  than  for  man  to  be  a  burden  and  a  terror  to  him 
self  ;  and  there  is  no  torment  like  that  of  our  own  thoughts.  Well, 
then,  go  to  God,  and  get  your  spirit  settled :  he  that  cherisheth  his 
own  doubts  doth  but  hug  a  distemper  instead  of  a  duty.  ^ 

Ver.  7.  For  let  not  that  man  think  that  he  shall  receive  anything 
of  the  Lord. 

Let  him  not  think— It  is  either  put  to  show  that  they  can  look  for 
nothing,  nor  rise  up  into  any  confidence  before  God ;  he  doth  not  say, 
'  He  shall  receive  nothing/  but  *  Let  not  that  man  think  he  shall 
receive;'  whatever  God's  overflowing  bounty  may  give  them,  they 
can  expect  nothing.  Or  else,  '  Let  not  that  man  think/  to  check 
their  vain  hopes.  Man  deceiveth  himself,  and  would  fain  seduce 
his  soul  into  the  way  of  a  carnal  hope ;  therefore,  saith  the  apostle, 
'Let  not  that  man  think/  that  is,  deceive  himself  with  a  vain 

That  he  shall  receive  anything. — Such  doubting  as  endeth  not  in 
faith  frustrateth  prayers,  and  maketh  them  altogether  vain  and  fruit 
less.  There  are  doubts  in  the  people  of  God,  but  they  get  the  victory 
over  them ;  and,  therefore,  it  is  not  to  be  understood  as  if  any  doubt 
did  make  us  incapable  of  any  blessing,  but  only  such  as  is  allowed 
and  prevaileth. 

Of  the  Lord,  irapa  rov  Kvplov ;  that  is,  from  Christ ;  Lord,  in 
the  idiom  of  the  New  Testament,  being  most  usually  applied  to  him, 
as  mediator ;  and  Christ  as  mediator  is  to  commend  our  prayers  to 
God,  and  to  convey  all  blessings  from  God  ;  therefore,  the  apostle 
saith,  1  Cor.  viii.  6,  'To  us  there  is  but  one  God,  the  Father  of  all, 
by  whom  are  all  things,  and  we  in  him  ;  and  one  Lord  Jesus  Christ, 
by  whom  are  all  things,  and  we  by  him.'  The  heathens,  as  they  had 
many  gods,  many  ultimate  objects  of  worship,  so  they  had  many 
lords,  many  intermediate  powers,  that  were  to  be  as  agents  between 
the  gods  and  men,  to  convey  the  prayers  and  supplications  of  men  to 
the  gods,  and  the  bounty  and  rewards  of  devotion  from  the  gods  to 
men  ;  *  But  to  us/  saith  the  apostle,  '  there  is  but  one  God/  one 
sovereign  God,  '  the  Father/  the  first  spring  and  fountain  of  blessings  ; 
4  and  one  Lord/  that  is,  one  Mediator,  '  Jesus  Christ,  St  ov  ra  Trdvra 
Kal  rjfjieis  Si  avrov,  by  whom  are  all  things '  which  come  from  the 
Father  to  us,  and  by  whom  alone  we  find  access  to  him. 

The  notes  are  these : — 

Obs.  1.  That  unbelievers,  though  they  may  receive  something,  yet 
they  can  expect  nothing  from  God.  Let  him  not  think  They  are 
under  a  double  misery  :—(!.)  They  can  lift  up  no  thoughts  of  hope 
and  comfort,  for  they  are  not  under  the  assurance  of  a  promise.  Oh, 
what  a  misery  is  this,  to  toil,  and  still  to  be  left  to  an  uncertainty— 
to  pray,  and  to  have  no  sure  hope  !  When  the  task  is  over,  they 
cannot  look  for  acceptance  or  a  blessing.  The  children  of  God  are 
upon^  more  sure  terms :  1  Cor.  ix.  26,  '  I  run  not  as  uncertainly  ; ' 
that  is,  not  as  one  that  is  in  danger  or  doubt  of  having  run  in  vain. 
So  Solomon  saith,  Prov.  xi.  18,  '  The  righteous  hath  a  sure  reward  ; ' 
they  have  God's  infallible  promise,  and  may  expect  a  blessing ;  but 
the  wicked,  whether  they  run  or  sit,  they  cannot  form  their  thoughts 
into  any  hope  ;  whether  they  run,  or  sit  still,  they  are  in  the  same 

JAS.  I.  7.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  53 

condition;1  if  they  run,  they  run  uncertainly;  if  they  pray,  they 
pray  uncertainly ;  like  a  slave  that  doth  his  task,  and  knoweth  not 
whether  he  shall  please  ;  so,  when  they  have  done  all,  they  are  still 
left  to  the  puzzle  and  uncertainty  of  their  own  thoughts ;  and  indeed 
it  is  a  punishment  that  well  enough  suiteth  with  their  dispositions  ; 
they  pray,  and  do  not  look  after  the  success  of  prayer  ;  they  perform 
duties,  and  do  not  observe  the  blessing  of  duties,  like  children  that 
shoot  their  arrows  at  rovers,  with  an  uncertain  aim,  and  never  look 
after  them  again.  Those  that  live  best  among  carnal  men,  live  by 
guess,  and  some  loose  devout  aims.  (2.)  If  they  receive  anything, 
they  cannot  look  upon  it  as  coming  by  promise,  or  as  a  return  of 
prayers.  When  the  children  are  fed,  the  dogs  may  have  crumbs :  all 
their  comforts  are  but  the  spillings  and  overflowings  of  God's  bounty. 
And  truly  this  is  a  great  misery,  when  we  cannot  see  love  in  our 
enjoyments,  and  blessings  are  given  us  by  chance  rather  than  cove 
nant  ;  they  cannot  discern  mercy  and  truth  in  any  of  their  comforts, 
as  Jacob  did,'  Gen.  xxxii.  10.  Well,  then,  let  the  misery  of  this  con 
dition  make  us  to  come  out  of  it ;  get  a  sure  interest  in  Christ,  that 
you  may  be  under  a  sure  hope  and  expectation.  Unbelief  will  always 
leave  you  to  uncertainty  ;  doubting  is  a  new  provocation,  and  when  a 
man  maketh  a  supplication  a  provocation,  what  can  he  look  for  ?  A 
man  may  be  ashamed  to  ask  God,  that  is  so  backward  to  honour  him. 
Obs.  2.  From  the  other  reason  of  the  words,  let  him  not  think. 
Men  usually  deceive  themselves  with  vain  hopes  and  thoughts :  they 
are  out  in  their  thinking  :  Mat.  iii.  9,  '  Think  not  to  say  within  your 
selves,  We  have  Abraham  to  our  father.'  Carnal  confidence  is  rooted 
in  some  vain  principle  and  thought ;  so  men  think  God  is  not  just, 
hell  is  not  so  hot,  the  devil  is  not  so  black,  nor  the  scriptures  so  strict 
as  they  are  made  to  be.  The  apostles  everywhere  meet  with  these 
carnal  thoughts  ;  asl  Cor.  vi.  9,  *  Be  not  deceived;  neither  fornicators, 
nor  adulterers,  nor  idolaters/  &c.  They  were  apt  to  deceive  them 
selves  with  some  such  hope ;  so  Gal.  vi.  7,  '  Be  not  deceived,  God  is 
not  mocked.'  Men  are  persuaded  that  if  they  can  devise  any  shift  to 
excuse  themselves  from  duty,  all  will  be  well  enough.  God  is  not 
mocked  with  any  pretences  ;  this  is  but  a  vain  thought.  Well,  then, 
look  to  your  privy  thoughts.  All  corrupt  actions  are  founded  in  some 
vain  thought,  and  this  vain  thought  is  strengthened  with  some  vain 
word ;  therefore  the  apostle  saith,  Eph.  v.  6,  '  Let  no  man  deceive 
you  with  vain  words.'  All  practical  errors  are  but  a  man's  natural 
thoughts  cried  up  for  a  valuable  opinion,  and  they  all  tend  either  to 
excuse  sin,  or  to  secure  us  from  judgment,  or  to  seduce  us  into  a  vain 
hope ;  and  thus  foolish  man  becometh  his  own  cheater,  and  deceiveth 
himself  with  his  own  thinking.  In  all  natural  and  civil  things  we 
desire  to  know  the  truth ;  many  do  deceive,  but  none  would  willingly 
be  deceived  ;  2  but  in  spiritual  things  we  think  ourselves  never  more 
happy  than  when  we  have  seduced  our  souls  into  a  vain  hope,  or 
gotten  them  into  a  fool's  paradise. 

1  '  T6  ffTdScov  HfpiK\rjs  dr,  dr  e/cdtfi/ro, 

OuSeis  oldevoXws'  Saiju.6ftos  jSpaSi/rijs.' — GTCEC.  Epigram. 

2  '  Gaudium  de  veritate  ormies  volunt,  multos  expertus  sum  qui  velint  fallere,  qui 
au tern  f alii  nerninem.' — Aug.  lib.  a;.  Confes.  cap.  13. 


•Obs.  3.  From  that,  that  lie  shall  receive.  The  cause  why  we 
receive  not  upon  asking,  is  not  from  God,  but  ourselves  ;  he  '  giveth 
liberally/  but  we  pray  doubtingly.  He  would  give,  but  we  cannot 
receive.  We  see  men  are  discouraged  when  they  are  distrusted,  and 
suspicion  is  the  ready  way  to  make  them  unfaithful ;  and,  certainly, 
when  we  distrust  God,  it  is  not  reasonable  we  should  expect  aught 
from  him.  Christ  said  to  Martha,  John  xi.  40,  '  If  thou  wouldst 
believe,  thou  shouldst  see  the  glory  of  God  ;'  that  is,  power,  love, 
truth,  discovered  in  their  lustre  and  glory.  Omnipotency  knoweth  no 
restraint,  only  it  is  discouraged  by  man's  unbelief;  therefore  it  is 
said,  Mark  vi.  5,  6,  '  And  he  could  do  no  mighty  work  there, 
because  of  their  unbelief ; ;  he  could  not,  because  he  would  not,  not 
for  want  of  power  in  him,  but  for  want  of  disposition  in  the  people. 
So  Mark  ix.  22,  23  :  the  father  cometh  for  a  possessed  child : 
*  Master,  if  thou  canst  do  anything,  help  us/  Christ  answereth,  f  If 
thou  canst  believe,  all  things  are  possible  to  him  that  believeth/ 
The  distressed  father  saith,  '  If  thou  canst  do  anything ; '  our  holy 
Lord  saith,  '  If  thou  canst  believe :  '  as  if  he  had  said,  Do  not  doubt 
of  my  power,  but  look  to  thy  own  faith  ;  I  can,  if  thou  canst.  If  we 
were  disposed  to  receive  as  God  is  fitted  to  give,  we  should  not  be 
long  without  an  answer.  Omnipotent  power  can  save  to  the  utter 
most,  infinite  love  can  pardon  to  the  uttermost,  if  we  could  but 
believe.  '  All  things  are  possible  to  him  that  believeth  ; '  that  is,  God 
can  do  all  things  for  the  comfort  and  use  of  believers  ;  faith  is  his 
immutable  ordinance,  and  he  will  not  go  out  of  his  own  way.  Well, 
then,  if  you  receive  not,  it  is  not  for  want  of  power  in  God,  but  want 
of  faith  in  yourselves. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  anything — neither  wisdom  nor  anything  else 
— that  God  thinketh  the  least  mercy  too  good  for  unbelievers  :  he 
thinketh.  nothing  too  good  for  faith,  and  anything  too  good  for 
unbelief.  It  is  observable,  in  the  days  of  Christ's  flesh,  that  faith  was 
never  frustrate  ;  he  never  let  it  pass  without  some  effect ;  nay,  some 
times  he  offereth  all  that  you  can  wish  for :  Mat.  xv.  28,  '  Great  is 
thy  faith  ;  be  it  to  thee  even  as  thou  wilt.'  Faith  giveth  Christ  con 
tent,  and,  therefore,  he  will  be  sure  to  give  the  believer  content ; 
crave  what  you  will,  and  he  will  give  it.  But,  on  the  contrary,  *  Let 
not  that  man  think  that  he  shall  receive  anything/  How  are  the 
bowels  of  mercy  shrunk  up  at  the  sight  of  unbelief !  Believers  shall 
have  all  things,  and  you  nothing. 

Obs.  5.  From  that/row  the  Lord,  that  the  fruit  of  our  prayers 
is  received  from  the  hands  of  Christ ;  he  is  the  middle  person  by 
whom  God  conveyeth  blessings  to  us,  and  we  return  duty  to  him.  See 
John  xiv.  13,  '  Whatsoever  ye  shall  ask  the  Father  in  my  name,  that 
will  I  do,  that  the  Father  may  be  glorified  in  the  Son/  Mark,  '  I  will 
do  it/ 1  Christ  receiveth  the  power  to  convey  the  blessing  ;  we  must 
ask  the  Father,  but  it  cometh  to  us  through  him  :  and  all  this,  not 
that  the  Father  might  be  excluded,  but  glorified.  We  are  unworthy 
to  converse  with  the  Father,  therefore  Christ  is  the  true  mediator. 
God  is  glorified  when  we  come  to  him  through  Christ.  In  times  of 

_  'Mirum  novumque  dictu  quod  patri  exhibeatur  petitio  et  filius  exaudiat,  cum  ex- 
auditio  ad  eum  pertineat  cui  est  porrecta  petitio.'— Simon  de  Cassia,  lib.  xiii.  cap.  2. 

JAS.  I.  8.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  55 

knowledge,  God  would  have  your  thoughts  in  prayer  to  be  more  dis 
tinct  and  explicit ;  you  must  come  to  the  Father  in  the  Son's  name, 
and  look  for  all  through  the  Spirit :  and  as  the  Spirit  worketh  as 
Christ's  Spirit,  to  glorify  the  Son,  John  xvi.  4,  so  the  Son,  he  will 
give  to  glorify  the  Father.  What  an  excellent  ground  of  hope  and 
confidence  have  we,  when  we  reflect  upon  these  three  things  in  prayer — 
the  Father's  love,  the  Son's  merit,  and  the  Spirit's  power !  No  man 
cometh  to  the  Son  but  by  the  Father,  John  vi.  65  :  no  man  cometh  to 
the  Father  but  by  the  Son,  John  xiv.  6  :  no  man  is  united  to  the  Son 
but  by  the  Holy  Ghost :  therefore  do  we  read  of  '  the  unity  of  the 
Spirit/  Eph.  iv.  3. 

Ver.  8.  A  double-minded  man  is  unstable  in  all  his  ways. 

He  proceedeth  to  a  general  consideration  of  the  unhappiness  of  un 
believers,  and  he  saith  two  things  of  them — that  they  are  double- 
minded  and  unstable.  Possibly  there  may  be  a  secret  antithesis,  or 
opposition,  between  the  temper  of  these  men  and  what  he  had  said 
before  of  God.  God  giveth  a-TrAw?,  with  a  single  mind  (ver.  5),  and  we 
expect  with  a  double  mind,  our  trust  being  nothing  so  sure  as  his 
mercy  is  free.  But  let  us  examine  the  words  more  particularly. 

A  double-minded  man,  §tyvyp<s  avrjp. — The  word  signifieth  one  that 
hath  two  souls  ;  and  so  it  may  imply — (1.)  A  hypocrite,  as  the  same 
word  is  used  to  that  purpose,  James  iv.  8  :  *  Purify  your  hearts,  ye 
double-minded/  Sfyv^oi,.  As  he  speaketh  to  open  sinners  to  cleanse 
their  hands,  so  to  close  hypocrites  (whom  he  there  calleth  double- 
minded,  as  pretending  one  thing  and  meaning  another),  to  purify 
their  hearts,  that  is,  to  grow  more  inwardly  sincere ;  and  so  it  suiteth 
very  well  with  that  phrase  by  which  the  Hebrews  express  a  deceiver  : 
Ps.  xii.  2,  '  With  a  double  heart  do  they  speak : '  in  the  original, 
'With  a  heart  and  a  heart,'  which  is  their  manner  of  expression 
when  they  would  express  a  thing-  that  is  double  or  deceitful,  as  divers 
or  deceitful  weights  is  a  weight  and  a  weight  in  the  original,  Prov. 
xx.  23.  As  Theophrastus  saith  of  the  partridges  of  Paphlagonia,  that 
they  had  two  hearts  ;  so  every  hypocrite  hath  two  hearts  or  two  souls. 
As  I  remember,  I  have  read  of  a  profane  wretch  that  bragged  he  had 
two  souls  in  one  body,  one  for  God,  and  the  other  for  anything.1  (2.)  It 
implieth  one  that  is  distracted  and  divided  in  his  thoughts,  floating 
between  two  different  ways  and  opinions,  as  if  he  had  two  minds,  or 
two  souls ;  and  certainly  there  were  such  in  the  apostle's  days,  some 
Judaising  brethren,  that  sometimes  would  sort  with  the  Jews,  some 
times  with  the  Christians,  and  did  not  use  all  due  endeavours  to  be 
built  up  in  the  faith,  or  settled  in  the  truth  :  as  of  ancient,  long  before 
this  time,  it  is  said  of  others,  2  Kings  xvii.  33,  '  They  feared  the  Lord, 
and  served  their  own  gods;'  they  were  divided  between  God  and 
idols,  which  indifferency  of  theirs  the  prophet  expresseth  by  a  double 
or  divided  heart :  Hosea  x.  2,  '  Their  heart  is  divided,  now  shall  they 
be  found  faulty.'  Thus  Athanasius  applied  this  description  to  the 
Eusebians,2  that  sometimes  held  one  thing,  and  anon  another,  that  a 

1  *  Professus  est  se  habere  duas  animas  in  eodem  corpore,  unam  Deo  dicatam,  alteram 
unicuique  illam  vellet.' — Callenueius  lib.  v.  Hist.  Neap. 

2  The  Arians,  so  called  from  Eusebius,  the  Arian  Bishop  of  Nicomedia,  who  recanted 
and  fell  again  to  his  heresy. — Socrat.  Scholast.  lib.  i.  cap.  25. 


man  could  never  have  them  at  any  stay  or  certain  pass.  (3.)  And,  more 
expressly  to  the  context,  it  may  note  those  whose  minds  were  tossed 
to  and  fro  with  various  and  uncertain  motions ;  now  lifted  up  with  a 
billow  of  presumption,  then  cast  down  in  a  gulf  of  despair,  being 
divided  between  hopes  and  fears  concerning  their  acceptance  with 
God.  I  prefer  this  latter  sense,  as  most  suiting  with  the  apostle's  pur 

Is  unstable,  a/carda-Taro?.— Hath  no  constancy  of  soul,  being  as  ready 
to  depart  from  God  as  to  close  with  him ;  no  way  fixed  and  resolved 
in  the  religion  he  professeth. 

In  all  kis  ways.— Some  apply  it  chiefly  to  prayer,  because  those  that 
are  doubtful  of  success  often  intermit  the  practice  of  it,  regarding  it 
only  now  and  then  in  some  zealous  pangs,  when  conscience  falleth 
upon  them  :  but  I  suppose  rather  it  is  a  general  maxim,  and  that 
prayer  is  only  intended  by  consequence,  for  the  apostle  saith,  '  in  all  his 
ways/  Note,  loay,  by  a  known  Hebraism,  is  put  for  any  counsel, 
action,  thought,  or  purpose  ;  arid  so  it  implieth  that  all  their  thoughts, 
motions,  and  actions  do  float  hither  and  thither  continually. 
The  notes  are  these  :— 

Obs.  1.  That  unbelieving  hypocrites  are  men  of  a  double  mind; 
they  want  the  conduct  of  the  Spirit,  and  are  led  by  their  own  affec 
tions,  and  therefore  cannot  be  settled :  fear,  the  love  of  the  world, 
carnal  hopes  and  interests  draw  them  hither  and  thither,  for  they  have 
no  certain  guide  and  rule.  It  is  said  of  godly  men,  Ps.  cxii.  7,  '  They 
shall  not  be  afraid  of  evil  tidings  ;  their  heart  is  fixed,  trusting  in  the 
Lord : '  they  walk  by  a  sure  rule,  and  look  to  sure  promises  ;  and  there 
fore,  though  their  condition  is  changed,  their  heart  is  not  changed,  for 
the  ground  of  their  hopes  is  still  the  same.  Carnal  men's  hearts  rise 
and  fall  with  their  news,  and  when  affairs  are  doubtful,  their  hopes  are 
uncertain,  for  they  are  fixed  upon  uncertain  objects,  'They  are  con 
founded,  for  they  have  heard  evil  tidings,'  saith  the  prophet,  Jer,  xlix. 
23  :  upon  every  turn  of  affairs,  they  have,  as  it  were,  another  heart 
and  soul.  That  request  of  David  is  notable  for  the  opening  of  this 
double  mind,  Ps.  Ixxxvi.  11,  'Unite  my  heart  to  fear  thy  name/  The 
Septuagint  read  evworov  T^V  KapStav  /^oO,  '  make  my  heart  one,'  that  is, 
apply  it  only  and  constantly  to  thy  fear ;  implying,  that  where  men 
are  divided  between  God  and  secular  interests,  they  have,  as  it  were, 
two  hearts  ;  one  heart  inclineth  them  to  a  care  of  duty,  the  other  heart 
discourageth  them  by  fears  of  the  world  :  the  heart  is  not  //-om^co? 
(which  is  Aquila's  word  in  that  place),  after  one  manner  and  fashion. 
This  double  mind  in  carnal  men  bewrayeth  itself  two  ways — in  their 
hopes  and  their  opinions.  (1.)  In  their  hopes,  they  are  distracted  be 
tween  expectation  and  jealousy,  doubts  and  fears ;  now  full  of  confi 
dence  in  their  prayers,  and  anon  breathing  forth  nothing  but  sorrow 
and  despair ;  and  possibly  that  may  be  one  reason  why  the  psalmist 
compareth  the  wicked  to  chaff,  Ps.  i.  4,  because  they  have  no  firm 
stay  and  subsistence,  but  are  driven  to  and  fro  by  various  and  un 
certain  motions,  leading  their  lives  by  guess,  rather  than  any  sure  aim. 
(2.)  In  their  opinions,  hypocrites  usually  waver  and  hang  in  suspense, 
being  distracted  between  conscience  and  carnal  affections  ;  their  affec 
tions  carry  them  to  Baal,  their  consciences  to  God ;  as  the  prophet 

JAS.  I.  8.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  57 

saith  to  such  men,  1  Kings  xviii.  21,  '  How  long  will  ye  halt  between 
two  opinions  ?  '  They  are  usually  guilty  of  a  promiscuous  compliance, 
which,  though  used  by  them  in  carnal  policy,  yet  often  tendeth  to  their 
hurt ;  for  this  indifferency  is  hateful  to  God  and  men.  God  loatheth 
it :  Rev.  iii.  15,  '  I  know  thy  works  ;  I  would  thou  wert  either  hot  or 
cold  ;  but  because  thou  art  neither  hot  nor  cold,  I  will  spue  tliee  out  of 
my  mouth/  Lukewarmness  is  that  temper  that  is  most  ingrate  to  the 
stomach,  and  therefore  causeth  vomits  :  so  are  lukewarm  Christians  to 
God  ;  his  ways  are  not  honoured  but  by  a  zealous  earnestness.  And  man 
hateth  it.  Solon  did  not  judge  him  a  good  citizen  that  in  a  civil  war 
took  neither  part;  usually  such  middling  men,1  like  those  that  come 
between  two  fencers,  suffer  on  both  sides.  I  confess,  sometimes  godly 
persons  may  be  at  a  stand ;  those  that  make  conscience  of  things  are 
not  rash  in  choice,  and  therefore  usually  there  is  some  hesitancy  before 
engagement,  which,  though  it  be  an  infirmity,  yet  God  winketh  at  it 
as  long  as  they  endeavour  satisfaction  :  but  certainly  a  child  of  God 
should  not  rest  in  such  a  frame  of  spirit :  sincerity  is  much  tried  by 
an  'establishment  in  the  present  truth,'  2  Peter  i.  12;  that  is,  by  up 
rightness  in  the  controversies  of  our  age  and  time.  Antiquated 
opinions,  that  are  altogether  severed  and  abstracted  from  present 
interests,  are  no  trial,  therefore  it  is  good  to  be  positive  and  settled, 
€v  TTJ  nrapovarj  akrjdeiq,  '  in  the  truth  that  now  is/  I  confess,  such 
cases  may  happen,  where  the  pretences  of  both  sides  are  so  fair,  and 
the  miscarriages  so  foul,  that  we  know  not  which  to  choose ;  and  (as 
Cato  said  of  the  civil  wars  between  Ca3sar  and  Pompey,  quern  fug iam 
video,  quern  sequar  non  video),  we  can  better  see  whom  to  avoid,  than 
whom  to  close  with  and  follow  ;  and  thereupon  there  may  be  hesitancy 
and  indifferency ;  but  this  is  neither  allowed  for  the  present,  nor  con 
tinued  out  of  interest,  but  conscience,  and  never  descendeth  to  any 
base  compliances  for  advantage.2 

Obs.  2.  That  doubtfulness  of  mind  is  the  cause  of  uncertainty  in 
our  lives  and  conversations.  Their  minds  are  double,  and  therefore 
their  ways  are  unstable.  First,  there  is  (as  Seneca  saith),  nusquam 
residents  animi  volutatio,  uncertain  rollings  of  spirit ;  and  then  vita 
pendens,  a  doubtful  and  suspensive  life.3  For  our  actions  do  oft  bear 
the  imnge  and  resemblance  of  our  thoughts,  and  the  heart  not  being 
fixed,  the  life  is  very  uncertain.  The  note  holdeth  good  in  two  cases : 
—(1.)  In  fixing  the  heart  in  the  hopes  of  the  gospel ;  (2.)  In  fixing  the 
heart  in  the  doctrine  of  the  gospel  ;  as  faith  sometimes  implieth  the 
doctrine  which  is  believed,  sometimes  the  grace  by  which  we  do  believe.4 
A  certain  expectation  of  the  hopes  of  the  gospel  produceth  obedience, 
and  a  certain  belief  of  the  doctrine  of  the  gospel  produceth  constancy. 

1.  None  walk  so  evenly  with  God  as  they  that  are  assured  of  the 
love  of  God.  Faith  is  the  mother  of  obedience,  and  sureness  of  trust 
maketh  way  for  strictness  of  life.  When  men  are  loose  from  Christ, 
they  are  loose  in  point  of  duty,  and  their  floating  belief  is  soon  dis 
covered  in  their  inconstancy  and  unevenness  of  walking.  We  do  not 

1  ''M^o-os  air*  a/j.<poTtpuv  /ca/cws  Tracrxei' — Nazar.  Orat.  13. 

2  '  Bonus  jinimus  nanquam  erranti  obsequium  accommodat.' — Ambros. 

3  Sen.  lib.  de  Tranquill. 

4  '  Fides  quse  creditur,  et  fides  qua  creditur.' 

58  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.   I.  9. 

with  any  alacrity  or  cheerfulness  engage  in  that  of  whose  success  we 
are  doubtful ; l  and  therefore,  when  we  know  not  whether  God  will 
accept  us  or  no,  when  we  are  off  and  on  in  point  of  trust,  we  are  just 
so  in  the  course  of  our  lives,  serve  God  by  fits  and  starts,  only  when 
some  zealous  moods  and  pangs  come  upon  us.  It  is  the  slander 
of  the  world  to  think  assurance  is  an  idle  doctrine.  Never  is  the  soul 
so  quickened  and  enabled  for  duty  as  it  is  by  '  the  joy  of  the  Lord  : ' 
Neh.  viii.  10,  '  The  joy  of  the  Lord  is  your  strength.'  Faith,  filling 
the  heart  with  spiritual  joy,  yieldeth  a  strength  for  all  our  duties  and 
labours ;  and  we  are  carried  on  with  life  and  vigour  when  we  have 
most  lively  apprehensions  of  the  divine  grace. 

2.  None  are  so  constant  in  the  profession  of  any  truth  as  they  that 
are  convinced  and  assured  of  the  grounds  of  it.  When  we  are  but 
half  convinced,  we  are  usually  unstable.  I  remember  the  apostle 
speaketh  of  a  thing  which  he  calleth  'IStov  o-rrfpiypov,  '  our  own  stead 
fastness/  2  Peter  iii.  17,  '  Lest  ye  fall  from  your  own  steadfastness 
into  the  error  of  the  wicked/  Every  believer  hath,  or  should  have,  a 
proper  ballast  in  his  own  spirit,  some  solid,  rational  grounds  that  may 
stay  and  support  him;  otherwise,  when  the  chain  of  consent  is  broken, 
we  shall  soon  be  scattered.  So  elsewhere  a  believer  is  bidden  to  ren 
der  \6yov,  '  a  reason  of  the  hope  that  is  in  him,'  1  Peter  iii.  15;  that  is, 
those  inward  motives  that  constrained  his  assent  to  the  truth.  Thus  also 
the  apostle  Paul  chargeth  us,  1  Thes.  v.  21,  first  to  '  prove  all  things,' 
and  then  to  'hold  fast  that  which  is  good/  It  is  unsafe  to  engage  till 
a  full  conviction,  or  to  resolve  without  evidence,  for  there  is  no  likeli 
hood  of  holding  fast  till  we  have  proved.  Well,  then,  labour  to  under 
stand  the  grounds  of  your  religion.  If  you  love  a  truth  ignorantly,  you 
cannot  love  it  constantly.  There  is  still  a  party  left  in  the  soul  to 
betray  it  into  the  hands  of  the  opposite  error.  To  take  up  ways  with 
out  any  trial  is  but  a  simple  credulity,  which  will  soon  be  abused  and 
misled  ;  and  to  take  up  ways  upon  half  conviction  is  hypocrisy,  which 
by  that  other  part  of  the  mind  not  yet  gained  will  be  soon  discovered. 
Look  upon  it,  then,  as  brutish  to  follow  the  track,  and  base  to  profess 
before  you  are  ascertained. 

Ver.  9.  Let  the  brother  of  low  degree  rejoice  in  that  he  is  exalted. 

The  apostle  having  finished  that  necessary  digression  about  prayer, 
returneth  to  the  main  matter  in  hand,  which  is  bearing  of  afflictions 
with  joy;  and  urgeth  another  reason  in  this  verse,  because,  to  be  de 
pressed  in  ^  the  world  for  righteousness'  sake,  is  to  be  exalted  towards 
God ;  and  in  consideration  of  their  spiritual  comforts  and  privileges, 
they  had  rather  cause  to  boast  and  glory  than  to  be  made  sorry.  Lot 
us  see  the  force  of  the  words. 

Let  the  brother  ;  that  is,  a  Christian.  The  people  of  God  are  ex 
pressed  by  that  term,  because  the  truest  friendship  and  brotherhood  is 
inter  bonos,  among  the  good  and  godly.  Combinations  of  wicked 
men  are  rather  a  faction  and  a  conspiracy  than  a  brotherhood  ;  there 
fore  you  find  this  in  scripture  notion  always  appropriated  to  the  people 
of  God.  When  it  is  said  indefinitely  '  a  brother,'  you  may  under 
stand  a  saint ;  as  here  James  doth  not  say  '  a  Christian/  but  '  let 
the  brother/  So  Paul,  1  Cor.  xvi.  20,  '  All  the  brethren  salute  you ; ' 

1  Cn/>oat/jec7is  OVK  ^artv  aSwdrw.'—  Arist.  Ethic. 

JAS.  I.  9.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  59 

that  is,  all  the  saints.  And  sometimes  it  is  expressed  with  this  ad 
dition,  *  holy  brethren/  1  Thes.  v.  27  ;  whereas  in  the  same  place,  in 
ver.  26,  he  had  said,  '  Greet  all  the  brethren.'  This  loving  compel- 
lation  and  use  of  calling  one  another  brothers  and  sisters  continued 
till  Tertullian's  time,  as  we  showed  before. 

Of  loiv  degree. — In  the  original  it  is  raTre^o?,  which,  as  the  Hebrew 
word  "oy,  signifieth  both  humble  and  base,  the  grace  and  the  con 
dition,  affliction  and  humility.  It  is  here  put  for  the  condition,  not 
the  grace,  and  therefore  we  well  render  it  '  of  a  low  degree ; '  for  it  is 
opposed  to  the  term  '  rich '  in  the  next  verse  ;  and  so  it  is  taken  else 
where,  as  Prov.  xvi.  19,  *  Better  be  of  an  humble  spirit  with  the 
lowly,  than  to  divide  the  spoil  with  the  proud/  By  lowly  he  meaneth 
the  lowly  in  condition,  not  in  heart ;  for  it  is  opposed  to  '  dividing  the 
spoil.'  So  Luke  i.  48,  *  He  hath  regarded  the  low  estate  of  his  hand 
maid  ; ' — it  is  rrjv  TcnreivuxTiv,  the  humility  of  his  handmaid.  The 
grace  and  the  condition  are  expressed  by  the  same  term,  because  a 
low  estate  is  the  great  engagement  to  a  lowly  heart.  But  remember, 
by  low  degree  is  not  intended  one  that  is  poor  simply,  but  one  that  is 
poor  for  Christ,  as  persecutions  and  afflictions  are  often  expressed  by 
the  word  humility  and  humiliation ;  thus  Ps.  ix.  12,  13,  '  He  for- 
getteth  not  the  cry  of  the  humble ' — the  margin  readeth  afflicted ; 
and  in  ver.  13,  '  Consider  my  trouble  which  I  suffer  from  them  that 
hate  me ' — in  the  original,  my  '  humiliation/  So  here,  aSeA</>o? 
Ta-Trai/o?,  '  the  humble  brother '  is  one  that  is  humbled  or  made  low 
by  the  adversaries  of  religion. 

Eejoice. — In  the  original  icav^da-Ow,  '  boast '  or  '  glory,'  as  it  is  in 
the  margin.  It  is  the  highest  act  of  joy;  even  when  joy  beginneth  to 
degenerate,  and  pass  the  limits  and  bounds  of  reason.  I  say,  it  is  the 
first  degeneration  of  joy,  and  argue th  the  soul  to  be  surprised  with 
great  excess  and  height  of  affection,  for  the  next  step  beyond  this  is 
verily  wicked.  Joy  beginneth  to  exceed  when  it  cometh  to  exultation, 
but  when  it  cometh  to  insultation,  it  is  stark  naught.  Therefore, 
how  should  they  boast  or  glory  ?  Is  that  lawful  ?  I  answer — (1.)  It 
may  be  understood  as  a  concession  of  the  lesser  evil,  thus :  Rather  than 
murmur  under  afflictions,  or  faint  under  them,  or  endeavour  to  come 
out  of  them  by  ill  means,  you  may  rather  boast  of  them  ;  rather  than 
groan  under  them  as  a  burden,  you  may  boast  of  them  as  a  privilege 
— it  is  the  lesser  evil.  Such  concessions  are  frequent  in  scripture,  as 
Prov.  v.  19,  '  Thou  shalt  err  in  her  love ;'  so  in  the  original,  and  in  the 
Septuagint,  rfj  $L\ia  avr^  Trepifapo/jievos  TroAAocrro?  e'er??,  *  Thou  shalt 
be  overmuch  in  her  love/  We  translate,  '  He  shall  be  ravished  with 
her  love/  which  certainly  implieth  an  unlawful  degree,  for  ecstasies 
and  ravishments  in  carnal  matters  are  sinful.  How  is  it,  then,  to  be 
understood?  Doth  the  scripture  allow  any  vitiosity  and  excess  of 
affection  ?  No  ;  it  is  only  a  notation  of  the  lesser  evil.  Eather  than 
lose  thyself  in  the  embraces  of  an  harlot,  '  let  her  breasts  satisfy 
be  overmuch,  or  '  err  in  her  love/  (2.)  It  may  only  imply  the  worth 
of  our  Christian  privileges:  let  him  look  upon  his  privileges  as 
matter  of  boasting.  How  base  and  abject  soever  your  condition  seem 
to  the  world,  yet  suffering  for  Christianity  is  a  thing  whereof  you  may 
rather  boast  than  be  ashamed.  (3.)  It  may  be  the  word  is  to  be  mol- 


lifted  with  a  softer  signification,  as  our  translators,  instead  of  '  let  him 
boast'  or  glory,  say,  *  let  him  rejoice,'  though,  by  the  way,  there  is 
no  necessity  of  such  a  mitigated  sense  ;  for  the  apostle  Paul  saith 
directly,  in  the  same  terms,  Rom.  v.  3,  '  We  boast,  or  glory,  in  tribu 
lations,'  &c.  But  more  of  this  in  the  observations. 

In  that  lie  is  exalted,  ev  reo  in/ret  avrov,  in  his  sublimity.  This 
may  be  understood  two  ways: — (1.)  More  generally,  in  that  he  is  a 
brother  or  a  member  of  Christ,  as  the  worth  and  honour  of  the  spirit 
ual  estate  is  often  put  to  counterpoise  the  misery  and  obscurity  of 
afflictions  ;  thus  Rev.  ii.  9,  '  I  know  thy  poverty,  but  thou  art  rich/ 
—poor  outwardly,  but  rich  spiritually.  (2.)  More  particularly,  it  may 
note  the  honour  of  afflictions,  that  we  are  thought  worthy  to  be  suf 
ferers  for  anything  in  which  Christ  is  concerned,  which  is  certainly  a 
great  preferment  and  exaltation. 
The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  people  of  God  are  brethren.     I  observed  it  before, 
but  here  it  is  direct,  '  Let  the  brother  of  low  degree/  &c.      They  are 
begotten  by  the  same  Spirit,  by  the  same  immortal  seed  of  the  word. 
They  have  many  engagements  upon  them  to  all  social  and  brotherly 
affection.    Jure  matris  naturce1  (as  Tertullian  saith) — by  the  common 
right  of  nature,  all  men  are  brethren.     But,  Vos  mali  fratres,  quia 
parum  homines  (saith  he  to  the  persecutors) — the  church  can  ill  call 
you  brethren,  because  ye  are  scarce  men.     Well,  then,  consider  your 
relation  to  one  another.     You  are  brethren,  a  relation  of  the  greatest 
endearment,  partly  as  it  is  natural — not  founded  in  choice,  as  friend 
ship,  but  nature  ;  partly  as  it  is  between  equals.     The  respect  between 
parents  and  children  is  natural ;  but  in  that  part  of  it  which  ascendeth 
from  inferiors  to  superiors,  there  is  more  of  reverence  than  sweetness. 
In  equals  there  is  (if  I  may  so  speak)  a  greater  symmetry  and  propor 
tion  of  spirit,  therefore  more  love.  Ah  !  then,  live  and  love  as  brethren. 
Averseness  of  heart  and  carriage  will  not  stand  with  this  sweet  rela 
tion.     The  apostle  speaketh  with  admiration:  1  Cor.  vi.  6,  'Brother 
goeth  to  law  with  brother,  and  that  before  unbelievers ! '     There  are 
two  aggravations — one  from  the  persons  striving,  brother  with  brother; 
the  other,  before  whom — they  made  infidels  conscious  of  their  conten 
tion.     So  Gen.  xiii.  7,  8,  '  And  there  was  a  strife  between  the  herd- 
men  of  Abram's  cattle   and   the  herdmen   of  Lot's  cattle,  and  the 
Canaanite  and  Perizzite  was  yet  in  the  land.'     The  Canaanite  was  yet 
unsubdued,  ready  to  take  advantage  of  their  divisions,  yet  they  strove. 
But  see  how   Abram  taketh   up   the  matter.  '  We  be  brethren,  let 
there  be  no  more  strife/     Oh  !  consider,  no  discords  are  like  those  of 
brethren.     The  nearer  the  union,  the  greater  the  separation  upon  a 
breach  ;  for  natural  ties  being  stronger  than  artificial,  when  they  are 
once  broken  they  are  hardly  made  up  again  ;  as  seams  when  they  are 
ripped  may  be  sewed  again,  but  rents  in  the  whole  cloth  are  not  so 
easily  remedied.     And  so  Solomon  saith,  Prov.  xviii.  19,  'A  brother 
offended  is  harder  to  be  won  than  a  strong  city :  their  contentions 
are  like  the  bars  of  a  castle  ; '  that  is,  they  are  as  irreconcilable  as 
a  strong  castle  is  impregnable.      But  this  is  not  all  that  is  required, 
as  to  avoid  what  misbecometh  the  relation,  but  we  must  also  practise 

1  Tertul.  in  Apol.  cap.  39. 

JAS.  I.  9.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  61 

the  duty  that  it  enforceth.  There  should  be  mutual  endeavours  for 
each  others'  good :  Ps.  cxxii.  8,  '  For  my  brethren  and  companions' 
sake,  I  will  now  say,  Peace  be  within  thee  ; '  that  is,  because  of  the  re 
lation,  he  would  be  earnest  with  God  in  prayer  for  their  welfare. 

Obs.  2.  The  brother  of  low  degree. — He  saith  of  low  degree,  and  yet 
brother.  Meanness  doth  not  take  away  church  relations.  Christian 
respects  are  not  to  be  measured  by  these  outward  things  ;  a  man  is 
not  to  be  measured  by  them,  therefore  certainly  not  a  Christian,  I 
had  almost  said,  not  a  beast.  We  choose  a  horse  sine  phaleris  et 
ephippio,  by  his  strength  and  swiftness,  not  the  gaudiness  of  his  trap 
pings  :  that  which  Christians  should  look  at  is  not  these  outward 
additaments,  but  the  eminency  of  grace  :  James  ii.  1,  '  Have  not  the 
faith  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  in  respect  of  persons ; '  that  is,  do  not 
esteem  their  grace  according  to  the  splendour  or  meanness  of  the  out 
ward  state  and  condition.  Despising  the  poor  is  called  a  despising 
the  church  of  God :  1  Cor.  xi.  22,  '  Have  ye  not  houses  to  eat  and 
drink  in  ?  Or  despise  ye  the  church  of  God,  and  shame  them  that 
have  not  ? '  At  their  love  feasts  they  were  wont  to  slight  the  poor, 
and  discourage  those  that  were  not  able  to  defray  part  of  the  charge, 
which,  the  apostle  saith,  is  a  despising  the  church  that  is,  those  that 
are  members  of  Christ  and  the  church,  as  well  as  themselves ; x  for  he 
doth  not  oppose  eKK\7]a-iai>  to  oiicov,  as  a  public  place  to  a  private,  but 
a  public  action  to  a  private  action ;  as  if  he  had  said  thus :  In  your 
houses  you  have  a  liberty  to  invite  whom  you  please,  but  when  you 
meet  in  a  public  assembly,  you  must  not  exclude  such  a  considerable 
part  of  the  church  as  the  poor  are. 

Obs.  3.  Again,  from  that  the  brother  of  a  low  degree.  Not  a  man 
of  low  degree,  but  a  brother.  It  is  not  poverty,  but  poor  Christianity 
that  occasioneth  joy  and  comfort.  Many  please  themselves  because 
they  suffer  afflictions  in  this  world ;  and  therefore  think  they  should 
be  free  in  the  world  to  come,  as  many  ungodly  poor  men  think  death 
will  make  an  end  of  their  troubles,  as  if  they  could  not  have  two  hells. 
Oh !  consider,  it  is  not  mere  meanness  that  is  a  comfort ;  the  brother 
only  can  rejoice  in  his  misery  and  low  estate.  You  shall  see  it  is  said, 
Exod.  xxiii.  3,  *  Thou  shalt  not  countenance  a  poor  man  in  his  cause  : ' 
a  man  would  have  thought  it  should  have  been  rather  said,  '  the  rich ; ' 
but  there  is  a  foolish  pity  in  man,  and  we  are  apt  to  say,  he  is  a  poor 
man,  and  so  omit  justice.  Well,  then,  God,  that  condemneth  it  in  man, 
will  not  pity  you  for  your  mere  poverty :  Mat.  v.  3,  '  Blessed  are  the 
poor  in  spirit ; '  mark  that  irvev^aTi,  in  spirit,  not  in  purse.  Many 
men's  sufferings  here  are  but  the  pledges  and  prefaces  of  future  misery, 
the  '  beginning  of  sorrows/  Mat.  xxiv.  8.  For  the  present  your  families 
are  full  of  wants,  your  persons  oppressed  with  misery  and  reproach, 
but  all  this  is  but  a  shadow  of  hell  that  cometh  after ;  every  Lazarus 
is  not  carried  into  Abraham's  bosom ;  you  may  be  miserable  here  and 
hereafter  too ;  God  will  not  pity  you  because  of  your  suffering,  but 
punish  you  rather,  for  these  give  you  warning.  Oh  !  consider,  then,  is 
it  not  sad  to  you,  when  you  see  the  naked  walls,  the  ragged  clothes, 
and  hear  the  cries  of  the  hungry  bellies  within  your  families,  you  your- 

i  See  Spanhemius  in  his  Dubia  Evanyelica,  part  iii.  dub.  77,  largely  discussing  this 


selves  much  bitten  and  pinched  with  want,  and  become  the  scorn  and 
contempt  of  those  that  dwell  about  you  ?  Ay !  but  it  will  be  more 
sad  to  consider  that  these  are  the  beginnings  of  sorrows ;  you  cry  for 
a  bit  now,  and  then  you  may  howl  for  a  drop  to  cool  your  tongue ; 
now  you  are  the  scorn  of  men,  then  the  scorn  of  God,  men,  and  angels. 
Oh  !  be  wise ;  now  you  may  have  Christ  as  well  as  others  ;  as  the  poor 
and  rich  were  to  pay  the  same  ransom  to  make  an  atonement  for  their 
souls,  Exod.  xxx.  15  :  but  if  not,  you  will  perish  as  well  as  others  ;  as 
God  will  not  favour  the  rich,  so  he  will  not  pity  the  poor. 

Obs.  4.  From  the  word  raTreo/o? — it  signifieth  both  humble,  and  of 
loiv  degree — observe,  that  the  meanest  have  the  greatest  reason  and 
engagement  to  be  humble ;  their  condition  always  maketh  the  grace 
in  season — poverty  and  pride  are  most  unsuitable.  It  was  one  of 
Solomon's  odd  sights,  Eccles.  x.  7,  to  see  '  servants  on  horseback,  and 
princes  going  on  foot/  A  poor  proud  man  is  a  prodigy  and  wonder 
of  pride ;  he  hath  less  temptation  to  be  proud,  he  hath  more  reason  to 
be  humble.  Nebuchadnezzar  was  more  excusable,  for  he  had  a  great 
Babel,  and  that  was  a  great  temptation.  Besides  what  should  be  in 
your  affections,  there  is  somewhat  in  your  condition  to  take  down  the 
height  of  your  spirits  :  it  is  not  fit  for  those  of  the  highest  rank  to  turn 
fashionists,  and  display  the  ensigns  of  their  own  vanity ;  but  when 
servants  and  those  of  a  low  degree  put  themselves  into  the  garb,  it  is 
most  intolerable.  But  alas !  thus  we  often  find  it ;  men  usually  walk 
unsuitably  to  their  condition,  as  if  they  would  supply  in  pride  what 
is  lacking  in  estate  and  sufficiency ;  whereas  others  that  excel  in 
abilities  are  most  lowly  in  mind,  as  the  sun  at  highest  casteth  least 

Obs.  5.  Again,  from  that  of  low  degree.  God  may  set  his  people  in 
the  lowest  rank  of  men.  A  brother  may  be  rdireivo^,  base  and  abject, 
in  regard  of  his  outward  condition.  '  The  Captain  of  salvation/  the 
Son  of  God  himself,  was,  Isa.  liii.  3,  '  despised  and  rejected  of  men  ; ' 
as  we  render  it  in  the  original,  chadal  ischim,  desitio  virorum,ihatis, 
the  leaving-off  of  men ;  implying  that  he  appeared  in  such  a  form 
and  rank  that  he  could  scarce  be  said  to  be  man,  but  as  if  he  were  to 
be  reckoned  among  some  baser  kind  of  creatures ;  as  Ps.  xxii.  6, 
David  saith,  as  a  type  of  him,  *  I  am  a  worm,  and  no  man ; '  rather 
to  be  numbered  among  the  worms  than  among  men,  of  so  miserable  a 
being  that  you  could  scarce  call  him  man;  rather  worm,  or  some 
other  notion  that  is  fittest  to  express  the  lowest  rank  of  creatures. 
Well,  then,  in  the  greatest  misery  say,  I  am  not  yet  beneath  the  con 
dition  of  a  saint — a  brother  may  be  base  and  abject. 

^  Obs.  6.  From  that  let  the  brother  of  low  degree  glory.  That  the 
vilest  and  most  abject  condition  will  not  excuse  us  from  murmuring : 
though  you  be  Tdireivos,  base,  yet  you  may  rejoice  and  glory  in  the 
Lord.  A  man  cannot  sink  so  low  as  to  be  past  the  help  of  spiritual 
comforts.  In  'the  place  of  dragons'  there  is  somewhat  to  check 
murmurings,  somewhat  that  may  allay  the  bitterness  of  our  condition, 
if  we  had  eyes  to  see  it :  though  the  worst  thing  were  happened  to 
you,  poverty,  loss  of  goods,  exile,  yet  in  all  this  there  is  no  ground  of 
impatiency  :  the  brother  of  low  degree  may  pitch  upon  something  in 
which  he  may  glory.  Well,  then,  do  not  excuse  passion  by  misery, 

JAS.  I.  9.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  63 

and  blame  your  condition  when  you  should  blame  yourselves :  it  is 
not  your  misery,  but  your  passions,  that  occasion  sin ;  wormwood  is 
not  poison.  But  alas  !  the  old  Adam  is  found  in  us  :  '  The  woman, 
which  thou  gavest  me,  gave  me,  and  I  did  eat/  We  blame  provi 
dence  when  we  should  smite  upon  our  own  thighs.  It  is  but  a  fond 
excuse  to  say,  Never  such  sufferings  as  mine :  Lam.  i.  12,  '  Is  there 
any  sorrow  like  unto  my  sorrow  ? '  Men  pitch  upon  that  circumstance, 
and  so  justify  their  murmurings.  But  remember,  the  greatness  of 
your  sufferings  cannot  give  allowance  to  the  exorbitancies  of  your 
passions  :  the  low  degree  hath  its  comforts. 

Obs.  7.  From  that  rejoice,  or  glory,  or  boast.  There  is  a  concession 
of  some  kind  of  boasting  to  a  Christian ;  he  may  glory  in  his  privileges. 
To  state  this  matter,  I  shall  show  you  :— 

1.  How  he  may  not  boast.    (1.)  Not  to  set  off  self,  self-worth,  self- 
merits  ;  so  the  apostle's  reproof  is  just,  1  Cor.  iv.  7,  '  Why  dost  thou 
glory '  (the  same  word  that  is  used  here)  '  as  if  thou  hadst  not  received 
what  thou  hast  ? '     That  is  an  evil  glorying,  to  glory  in  ourselves,  as  if 
our  gifts  and  graces  were  of  our  own  purchasing,  and  ordained  for  the 
setting  off  of  our  own  esteem ;  all  such  boasting  is  contrary  to  grace, 
as  the  apostle  saith,  Rom.  iii.  27,  flou  ovv  r)  Kavxrja-is,  '  Where  is 
boasting?   It  is  excluded  by  grace.'    (2.)  Not  to  vaunt  it  over  others  ; 
the  scripture  giveth  you  no  allowance  to  feed  pride  :  it  is  the  language 
of  hypocrites,  Isa.  Ixv.  5,  '  Stand  by  thyself ;  I  am  holier  than  thou/ 
To  despise  others,  as  carnal,  as  men  of  the  world,  and  to  carry  our 
selves  with  an  imperious  roughness  towards  them,  it  is  a  sign  we 
forget  who  made  the  difference.     The  apostle  chideth  such  kind  of 
persons,  Rom.  xiv.  10,  TL  efou&z/efc,  'Why  dost  thou  set  at  naught  thy 
brother?'      Tertullian  readeth  it,  Cur  nullificasf — why  dost   thou 
nothing  him?     He  that  maketh  nothing  of  others,  forgetteth  that 
God  is  '  all  in  all '  to  himself.     Grace  is  of  another  temper  :  Titus  iii. 
3,  '  Show  meekness  to  all  men,  for  we  ourselves  in  times  past  were 
foolish  and  disobedient/     So  think  of  what  you  are,  that  you  may  not 
forget  what  you  were,  before  grace  made  the  distinction. 

2.  How  he  may  boast.     (1.)  If  it  be  for  the  glory  of  God,  to  exalt 
God,  not  yourselves :  Ps.  xxxiv.  2,  '  My  soul  shall  make  her  boast  of 
God ; '  of  his  goodness,  mercy,  power.     This  is  well,  when  we  see  we 
have  nothing  to  boast  of  but  our  God ;  neither  wealth,  nor  riches,  nor 
wisdom,  but  of  the  Lord  alone  :  Jer.  ix.  23,  24,  '  Let  not  the  wise 
man  glory  in  his  wisdom,  nor  the  mighty  man  glory  in  his  strength ; 
but  let  him  that  glorieth  glory  in  this,  that  he  knoweth  me,  saith  the 
Lord/     This  doth  not  only  quicken  others  to  praise  him,  but  argueth 
much  affection  in  yourselves  ;  as,  when  we  prize  a  thing,  we  say  we 
have  nothing  to  glory  of  but  that ;  so  it  is  a  sign  the  soul  sets  God 
above  all  when  it  will  glory  in  none  other.     (2.)  To  set  out  the  worth 
of  your  privileges.     The  world  thinketh  you  have  a  hard  bargain  to 
have  a  crucified  Christ ; — glory  in  it.     Thus  Rom.  v.  3,  '  We  glory  in 
tribulations/    The  apostle  doth  not  say,  We  must  glory  or  boast  of  our 
tribulations  or  sufferings,  but  glory  in  tribulations.     There  is  poor 
comfort  in  offering  our  bodies  to  the  idol  of  our  own  praise,  and  to 
affect  a  martyrdom  to  make  way  for  our  repute  or  esteem,  that  we 
may  have  somewhat  whereof  to  boast ;  that  is  not  the  apostle's  mean- 


ing.  But  this  glorying  is  to  let  the  world  know  the  honour  we  put 
upon  any  engagement  for  Christ,  and  that  they  may  know  we  are  not 
ashamed  of  our  profession,  when  it  is  discountenanced  and  persecuted. 
The  apostle  Paul  is  excellently  explained  by  the  apostle  Peter  :  1  Peter 
iv.  16,  'If  any  man  suffer  as  a  Christian,  let  him  not  be  ashamed,  but 
let  him  glorify  God  in  this  behalf.'  They  think  it  is  a  disgrace,  and 
you  think  it  is  a  glory  to  surfer  for  Christ.  Look,  as  divines  say,  in  the 
case  of  eyeing  the  reward ;  then  it  is  done  most  purely  when  it  is  done  to 
extenuate  the  temptation  by  the  esteem  and  presence  of  our  hopes,  as 
Christ  counted  it  a  light  shame,  in  comparison  of  '  the  joy  set  before 
him/  Heb.  xii.  2 ;  and  Moses  the  treasures  of  Egypt  nothing  in  com 
parison  of  the  recompense  of  reward,  Heb.  xii.  26.  So,  here,  in 
this  cause  you  may  glory,  that  is,  to  counterbalance  the  shame  of  the 
world  with  the  dignity  of  your  profession  and  hopes.  Well,  then, 
you  see  how  you  may  glory,  to  declare  your  valuation  and  esteem  of 
God  and  his  ways. 

Obs.  8.  From  that  he  is  exalted.  That  grace  is  a  preferment  and 
exaltation ;  even  those  of  low  degree  may  be  thus  exalted.  All  the 
comforts  of  Christianity  are  such  as  are  riddles  and  contradictions 
to  the  flesh  :  poverty  is  preferment ;  servants  are  freemen,  the  Lord's 
freemen,  1  Cor.  vii.  22.  The  privileges  of  Christianity  take  off  all 
the  ignominy  of  the  world.  Christian  slaves  and  vassals  are  yet 
delivered  from  the  tyranny  of  Satan,  the  slavery  of  sin  ;  therefore  he 
saith  they  are  '  the  Lord's  freemen/  So  James  ii.  5,  '  Hath  not  God 
chosen  the  poor  in  this  world  to  be  rich  in  faith  ?  '  Spiritual  treasure 
and  inward  riches  are  the  best.  A  Christian's  life  is  full  of  mysteries  ; 
poor,  and  yet  rich,  base,  and  yet  exalted ;  shut  out  of  the  world,  and 
yet  admitted  into  the  company  of  saints  and  angels  ;  slighted,  yet  dear 
to  God ;  the  world's  dirt,  and  God's  jewels.  In  one  place  it  is  said, 
1  Cor.  iv.  13,  '  We  are  counted  as  the  scurf  and  off-scouring  of  the 
earth  ; ;  and  in  another,  Mai.  iii.  17,  '  I  will  make  up  my  jewels.' 
Not  a  foot  of  land,  yet  an  interest  in  the  land  of  promise,  a  share  in 
the  inheritance  of  the  saints  in  light ;  you  see  everything  is  amply 
made  up  in  another  way.  Do  but  consider  the  nature  of  your  privi 
leges,  and  you  cannot  but  count  them  a  preferment.  You  are  called  to 
be  '  sons  of  God : '  John  i.  12,  '  He  vouchsafed  them  egovalav,  the 
privilege  or  prerogative  to  become  the  sons  of  God  ;'  so  also,  *  members 
of  Christ/  and  what  a  door  of  hope  doth  that  open  to  you  ;  so  also 
'  heirs  of  the  promises/  'joint-heirs  with  Christ/  Rom.  viii.  17  ;  so  also 
'  partakers  of  the  divine  nature/  2  Peter  i.  4  :  and  what  a  privilege  is 
that,  that  we  should  be  severed  from  the  vile  world,  and  gilded  with 
glory,  when  we  might  have  stood  like  rotten  posts  !  that  we  should  be 
united  to  Christ,  when,  like  dried  leaven,1  we  might  have  been  driven 
to  and  fro  throughout  the  earth.  Well,  then  :— 

1.  Never  quarrel  with  providence.  Though  you  have  not  other 
things,  rejoice  in  this,  that  you  have  the  best  things.  Sole  adoption  is 
worth  all  the  world.  Do  not  complain  that  you  have  not  the  gold, 
if  you  have  the  kiss.  I  allude  to  that  known  story  in  Xenophon. 
Never  envy  the  world's  enjoyments,  no,  though  you  see  men  wicked 
and  undeserving.  To  murmur  under  any  such  pretence  is  but  dis- 

1  Qu. '  leaves '  ?— ED. 

JAS.  I.  10.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  65 

guised  envy.  Consider  God  hath  called  you  to  another  advancement. 
You  sin  against  the  bounty  of  God  if  you  do  not  value  it  above  all 
the  pomp  and  glory  of  the  creatures.  They  are  full  and  shining,  but 
your  comforts  are  better  and  more  satisfying  :  1  Tim.  vi.  6,  '  Godliness 
with  contentment  is  great  gain ; '  or  it  may  be  read,  '  Godliness  is 
great  gain  with  contentment/  in  opposition  to  worldly  gain.  Men 
may  gain  much,  but  they  are  not  satisfied  ;  but  godliness  is  such  a 
gain  as  bringeth  contentment  and  quiet  along  with  it ;  for  I  suppose 
that  place  of  the  apostle  is  parallel  to  that  of  Solomon  :  Prov.  x.  22, 
'  The  blessing  of  God  maketh  rich,  and  he  addeth  no  sorrow  with  it.' 

2.  Eefresh  your  hearts  with  the  sense  of  your  privileges.  You  that 
are  the  people  of  God  are  exalted  in  your  greatest  abasures.  Are  you 
naked  ?  You  may  be  '  arrayed  in  tine  linen/  Kev.  xix.  8,  which  is 
'  SiKaKOfAara,  the  righteousnesses  of  the  saints : '  that  plural  word  im- 
plieth  justification  and  sanctification.  Are  you  hungry  ?  God's  moun 
tain  will  yield  you  '  a  feast  of  fat  things,  a  feast  of  wines  upon  the  lees 
well  refined/  Isa.  xxv.  6 :  wines  on  the  lees  are  most  generous  and 
sprightly.  Are  you  thirsty  ?  You  have  '  a  well  of  water  springing 
up  to  everlasting  life/  John  iv.  14.  Are  you  base  ?  You  have  glory, 
you  have  a  crown.  The  word  useth  these  expressions  to  show  that 
all  your  wants  are  made  up  by  this  inward  supply. 

Obs.  9.  Observe  more  particularly,  that  the  greatest  abasures  and 
sufferings  for  Christ  are  an  honour  to  us  :  Acts  v.  41,  '  They  rejoiced 
they  were  counted  worthy  to  suffer  shame  for  his  name/  It  was  an 
act  of  God's  grace  to  put  this  honour  upon  them.  Well,  then,  do  not 
look  upon  that  as  a  judgment  which  is  a  favour.  Reproaches  for 
Christ  are  matter  of  thanksgiving  rather  than  discontent.  In  ordi 
nary  sufferings  God's  people  have  this  comfort,  that  as  nothing  cometh 
without  merit,  so  nothing  goeth  away  without  profit.  But  here,  what 
ever  is  done  to  them  is  an  honour,  and  an  high  vouchsafement.  Oh  ! 
how  happy  are  the  people  of  God,  that  can  suffer  nothing  from  God  or 
men,  but  what  they  may  take  comfort  in  ! 

Ver.  10.  But  the  rich,  in  that  he  is  made  low ;  because  as  the  flower 
of  ike  grass  he  shall  pass  away. 

He  taketh  occasion  from  the  former  exhortation,  which  pressed  to 
rejoice  in  miseries,  to  speak  of  the  opposite  case,  prosperity.  Some 
suppose  the  words  to  be  an  irony,1  wherein  the  apostle  discovereth  his 
low  conceit  of  worldly  glory  :  all  their  exaltation  is  humiliation  ;  and 
therefore,  if  he  will  glory,  let  him  glory  in  his  vileness,  and  the  un- 
settledness  of  his  condition.  That  is  all  they  can  boast  of — a  low  en 
joyment  that  may  be  soon  lost.  But  I  suppose  it  is  rather  a  direction ; 
for  he  speaketh  by  way  of  advice  to  the  rich  Christian  or  brother, 
which  will  appear  more  fully  by  a  view  of  the  words. 

But  the  rich. — It  noteth  the  noble,  the  honourable,  those  that  are 
dignified  with  any  outward  excellency,  more  especially  those  that  did  as 
yet  remain  untouched  or  unbroken  by  persecution.  Some  observe  he 
doth  not  say  '  the  rich  brother/  as  before,  *  the  brother  of  low  degree/ 
but  only  generally  '  the  rich.'  Few  of  that  quality  and  rank  give  their 
names  to  Christ.  But  this  may  be  too  curious. 

In  that,  &c. — You  see  here  wanteth  a  verb  to  make  the  sense  entire 

1  Tho.  Lyra. 
VOL.  IV.  B 

66  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  10. 

and  full.  What  is  to  be  understood  ?  (Ecumenius  saith 
1  Let  him  be  ashamed/  considering  the  uncertainty  of  his  estate  ;  others, 
much  to  the  same  sense,  raireLvovo-dw,  let  hhn^be  humbled  in  that  he 
is  made  low,  as  if  the  opposite  word  to  Kav^acrdw^  were  to  be  intro 
duced  to  supply  the  sense.  So  it  would  be  a  like  speech  with  that,  1 
Tim.  iv.  3,  where  in  the  original  it  runneth  thus,  KCO^VOVTCOV  ja/jielv  KOI 
aTreyeaOai  T&V  Ppwpdrcov,  'forbidding  to  marry,  and  to  abstain  from 
meats;  'where  there  is  a  defect  of  the  contrary  word  'commanding/ 
which  we  in  our  translation  supply,  and  read,  '  forbidding  to  marry,  and 
commanding  to  abstain  from  meats/  as  Epiphanius,  citing  that  place, 
readeth  it  with  that  addition,  /cco\v6i>ra)v  ja/^elv  KOI  Kekevbwrwv  cnrtyza-- 
Qai  BwJLaTwv.  So  1  Tim.  ii.  12,  '  I  suffer  not  a  woman  to  teach,  but  to 

be  in  silence.'  The  opposite  word  to  suffer  not,  or  forbid,  is  under 
stood,  that  is,  '  I  command  her  to  be  in  silence.'  So  here,  '  Let  the 
brother  of  low  degree  glory  in  that  he  is  exalted  ;  '  and  then  '  the  rich 
be  humbled  in  that  he  is  made  low.1  Many  go  this  way.  But  this 
seemeth  somewhat  to  disturb  the  series  and  order  of  the  words.  I 
always  count  that  the  best  sense  which  runneth  with  a  smooth  plain 
ness  ;  therefore  I  rather  like  the  opinion  of  others  who  repeat  Kav^aaOw^ 
used  in  the  former  verse,  '  Let  him  rejoice,  the  poor  man,  in  that^he  is 
spiritually  exalted  ;  the  rich  in  that  he  is  spiritually  humbled.'  So 
that  grace  maketh  them  both  even  and  alike  to  God,  and  in  regard  of 
divine  approbation  they  stand  upon  the  same  level  —  the  poor  that  is 
too  low  he  is  exalted,  the  rich  that  is  too  high  he  is  humbled  ;  which 
to  both  is  matter  of  glory  or  joy. 

He  is  made  low.  —  Some  say  outwardly  and  in  providence,  when  his 
crown  is  laid  in  the  dust,  and  he  is  stripped  of  all,  and  brought  into 
the  condition  of  the  brother  of  low  degree.  But  this  is  not  so  proper  ; 
for  the  apostle  speaketh  of  such  a  making  low  as  will  consist  with  his 
being  rich  ;  made  low  whilst  vrXoimo?,  rich,  and  high  in  estate  and 
esteem.  Some  more  particularly  say,  therefore  made  low,  because, 
though  honourable  for  riches,  yet,  because  a  Christian,  no  more  esteemed 
than  if  poor,  but  accounted  base  and  ignominious.  But  this  doth  not 
suit  with  the  reason  at  the  end  of  the  verse,  '  because  as  the  flower  of 
the  field  he  shall  pass  away/  More  properly,  then,  it  is  understood  of 
the  disposition  of  the  heart,  of  a  low  mind  in  a  high  condition  ;  and  so 
it  noteth  either  such  humility  as  ariseth  from  the  consideration  of  our 
own  sinfulness  (they  are  happy  indeed  whom  God  hath  humbled  with 
a  sense  of  their  sins),  or  from  a  consideration  of  the  uncertainty  of  all 
worldly  enjoyments.  When  our  hearts  are  drawn  from  a  high  esteem 
of  outward  excellences,  and  we  live  in  a  constant  expectation  of  and 
preparation  for  the  cross,  we  may  be  said  to  be  made  low,  though 
never  so  much  exalted,  which  I  suppose  is  chiefly  intended,  and  so  it 
suiteth  with  the  reason  annexed,  and  is  parallel  with  that  of  the 
apostle  :  1  Tim.  vi.  17,  '  Charge  the  rich  men  of  this  world  that  they 
be  not  high-mir  ded,  and  trust  not  in  uncertain  riches.'  The  meaning  is, 
that  the  glory  of  their  condition  is,  that  when  God  hath  made  them 
most  high,  they  are  most  low  in  their  own  thoughts. 

Because  as  the  flower  of  the  grass  he  shall  pass  away.  —  He  ren- 
dereth  a  reason  why  they  should  have  a  lowly  mind  in  the  midst  of 
their  flourishing  and  plenty,  because  the  pomp  of  their  condition  is  but 

JAS.  I.  10.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  67 

as  a  flower  of  the  field,  which  fadeth  as  soon  as  it  displayeth  its  glory. 
The  similitude  is  often  used  in  scripture  :  Ps.  xxxvii.  2,  '  They  shall 
soon  be  cut  down  as  the  grass,  and  wither  as  the  green  herb  ;  '  so 
Job  xiv.  2,  '  He  cometh  forth  like  a  flower,  and  is  cut  down  ;  '  so  Isa. 
xl.  6,  7,  '  All  flesh  is  grass,  and  the  goodliness  thereof  as  the  flower  of 
the  field.  The  grass  withereth,  and  the  flower  fadeth,  because  the 
Spirit  of  the  Lord  bloweth  upon  it  ;'  so  also  in  many  other  places.  I 
shall  improve  the  similitude  in  the  notes.  Only  observe  here,  that 
the  apostle  doth  not  say  that  his  riches  shall  pass  away  as  a  flower, 
but  he  shall  pass  away,  he  and  his  riches  also.  If  we  had  a  security  of 
our  estate,  we  have  none  of  our  lives.  We  pass  and  they  pass,  and 
that  with  as  easy  a  turn  of  providence  as  the  flower  of  the  field  fadeth. 

The  notes  are  these  :  — 

Obs.  1.  Riches  are  not  altogether  inconsistent  with  Christianity. 
'  Let  the  rich/  that  is,  the  rich  brother.  Usually  they  are  a  great 
snare.  It  is  a  hard  matter  to  enjoy  the  world  without  being  en 
tangled  with  the  cares  and  pleasures  of  it.  The  moon  never  suffereth 
eclipse  but  when  it  is  at  the  full  ;  and  usually  in  our  fulness  we  mis 
carry  ;  and  therefore  our  Saviour  saith,  Mat.  xix.  24,  *  It  is  easier 
for  a  camel  to  go  through  the  eye  of  a  needle  than  for  a  rich  man  to 
enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God.'  It  is  a  Jewish  proverb  to  note  an 
impossibility.  Rich  men  should  often  think  of  it.  A  camel  may  as 
soon  go  through  a  needle's  eye,  as  you  enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God. 
That  were  a  rare  miracle  of  nature,  indeed,  to  see  a  camel  or  an  ele 
phant  to  pass  through  a  needle's  eye  ;  and  it  is  as  rare  a  miracle  of 
grace  to  see  a  rich  man  gained  to  Christ  and  a  love  of  heaven.  Of  all 
person  sin  the  world,  they  are  least  apprehensive  of  spiritual  excel 
lences.  Christ  himself  came  inpoverty,  in  a  prejudice,  as  it  were,  to 
them  that  love  riches.  Plato,  an  heathen,  saith  the  same  almost  with 
Christ,  that  it  is  impossible  for  a  man  to  be  eminently  rich  and  emi 
nently  good.1  The  way  of  grace  is  usually  so  strait,  that  there  is 
scarce  any  room  for  them  that  would  enter  with  their  great  burthens 
of  riches  and  honour.2  But  you  will  say,  What  will  you  have 
Christians  to  do  then?  In  a  lavish  luxury  to  throw  away  their 
estates  ?  or  in  an  excess  of  charity  to  make  others  full,  when  themselves 
are  empty  ?  I  answer  —  No  ;  there  are  two  passages  to  mollify  the 
rigour  of  our  Lord's  saying.  One  is  in  the  context,  *  With  God  all  things 
are  possible,'  Mat.  xix.  26.  Difficulties  in  the  way  to  heaven  serve  to 
bring  us  to  a  despair  of  ourselves,  not  of  God.  He  can  loosen  the  heart 
from  the  world,  that  riches  shall  be  no  impediment  ;  as  Job  by  provi 
dence  was  made  eminently  rich,  and  by  grace  eminently  godly  —  '  none 
like  him  in  all  the  earth/  Job  i.  8.  The  other  passage  is  in  Mark  x. 
23,  24,  '  Jesus  said,  How  hard  is  it  for  them  that  have  riches  to  enter 
into  the  kingdom  of  God  !  And  the  disciples  were  astonished  at  his 
words  ;  but  Jesus  answereth  again,  How  hard  is  it  for  them  that  trust 
riches  to  enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God  !  '  It  is  not  the  having,  but 
the  trusting.  Riches  in  the  having,  in  the  bare  possession,  are  not  a 
hindrance  to  Christianity,  but  in  our  abuse  of  them.  The  sum  of  all 

1  ('Aya6bv  t>vra  5ta0e/>6irws  /cai  TrXo&rtoi'  elvai  Sia0e/>6i'Tc<JS  ddvvarov.'  —  Plato. 

2  '  Non  possunt  in  coelum  aspicere,  quoniam  mens  eorum  in  humum  prona,  terraeque  de- 
fixa  est;  virtutis  autem  via  non  capit  magna  onera  portantes.'  —  Lactant.  lib.  sept. 

68  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  10. 

is,  it  is  impossible  to  trust  in  riches  and  enter  into  the  kingdom  of 
God,  and  it  to  us  is  impossible  to  have  riches  and  not  to  trust  in  them. 
Well,  then,  of  all  men,  rich  men  should  be  most  careful.  ^  A  man  may 
be  rich  and  godly,  but  it  is  because  now  and  then  God  will  work  some 
miracles  of  grace.  Your  possessions  will  not  be  your  ruin  till  your  cor 
ruptions  mingle  with  them.  Under  the  law  the  poor  and  rich  were 
to  pay  the  same  ransom,  Exod.  xxx.  15,  intimating  they  may  have 
interest  in  the  same  Christ.  It  is  Austin's  observation l  that  poor  Laz 
arus  was  saved  in  the  bosom  of  rich  Abraham.  Kiches  in  themselves 
are  God's  blessings  that  come  within  a  promise.  It  is  said,  Ps.  cxii.  3, 
of  him  that  feareth  the  Lord,  that  '  wealth  and  riches  shall  be  in  his 
house  ; '  that  is,  when  God  seeth  good,  for  all  temporal  promises  must 
be  understood  with  an  exception.  They  do  not  intimate  what  always 
shall  be,  but  that  whatever  is  is  by  way  of  a  blessing,  the  fruit  of  a 
promise,  not  of  chance,  or  a  looser  providence.  Yea,  riches  with  a 
blessing  are  so  far  from  being  a  hindrance  to  grace,  that  they  are  an 
ornament  to  it ;  so  Prov.  xiv.  24,  '  The  crown  of  the  wise  is  their 
riches,  but  the  foolishness  of  fools  is  folly.'  A  rich  wise  man  is 
more  conspicuous ;  an  estate  may  adorn  virtue,  but  it  cannot  disguise 
folly.  A  wise  man  that  is  rich  hath  an  advantage  to  discover  himself 
which  others  have  not ;  but  a  fool  is  a  fool  still,  as  an  ape  is  an  ape 
though  tied  with  a  golden  chain.  And  to  this  sense  I  suppose  Solo 
mon  speaketh  when  he  saith,  Eccles.  vii.  11,  'Wisdom  with  an  inheri 
tance  is  good  ; '  that  is,  more  eminent  and  useful.  And  thus  you  see 
riches  are  as  men  use  them,  blessings  promiscuously  dispensed — to  the 
good,  lest  they  should  be  thought  altogether  evil ;  to  the  bad,  lest  they 
should  be  thought  only  good.2 

Obs.  2.  That  a  rich  man's  humility  is  his  glory.  Your  excellency 
doth  not  lie  in  the  pomp  and  splendour  of  your  condition,  but  in  the 
meekness  of  your  hearts.  Humility  is  not  only  a  clothing,  '  Put  on 
humbleness  of  mind/  Col.  iii.  12,  but  an  ornament,  1  Peter  v.  5, '  Be 
decked  with  humility/  e^Ko^^aao^Oe.  It  cometh  from  a  word  that 
signifieth  a  knot,  that  maketh  decency  when  things  are  fitly  tied. 
Men  think  that  humility  is  a  debasement,  and  meekness  a  derogation 
from  their  honour  and  repute.  Ah !  but  you  see  God  counteth 
it  an  ornament.  It  is  not  a  disguise,  but  a  decking.  None  so  base  as 
the  proud  in  the  eyes  of  God  and  men.  Before  God,  you  must  not 
value  yourself  by  your  estate  and  outward  pomp,  but  your  graces. 
An  high  mind  and  a  low  condition  are  all  one  to  the  Lord,  only 
poverty  hath  the  advantage,  because  it  is  usually  gracious.  If  any  may 
glory,  they  may  glory  that  have  most  arguments  of  God's  love.  Now 
a  lowly  mind  is  a  far  better  testimony  of  it  than  an  high  estate.  And 
so  before  men,  as  Augustine  said,  he  is  a  great  man  that  is  not  lifted  up 
because  of  his  greatness.  You  are  not  better  than  others  by  your  estate, 
but  your  meekness.  The  apostles  possessed  all  things  though  they  had 
nothing.  They  have  more  than  you  if  they  have  a  humble  heart. 

Obs.  3.  That  the  way  to  be  humble  is  to  count  the  world's  advan 
tages  our  abasement.  The  poor  man  must  glory  in  that  he  is  exalted, 
but  the  rich  in  that  he  is  made  low.  Honours  and  riches  do  but  set 

1  *  Servatur  pauper  Lazarus,  sed  in  sinu  Abraham!  divitis.' — August,  in  Ps.  li. 
'  Dautur  bonis  ue  putentur  mala,  mails  ne  putentur  bona. ' — August. 

JAS.  I.  10.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  69 

us  beneath  other  men,  rather  than  above  them,  and  do  rather  abate 
from  you  than  add  anything  to  you ;  and  it  may  be  you  have  less  of 
the  Spirit  because  you  have  more  of  the  world.  God  doth  not  use  to 
flow  in  both  ways.  Well,  then,  get  this  mind  in  the  midst  of  your 
abundance.  It  is  nothing  what  you  do  at  other  times.  Men  dispraise 
that  which  they  want,  as  the  fox  the  grapes,  and  simple  men  learn 
ing.  But  when  you  are  rich,  can  you  glory  in  that  you  are  made  low, 
and  say,  All  this  is  but  low  in  regard  of  the  saints'  privileges  ?  This 
would  keep  the  heart  in  a  right  frame,  so  that  you  could  lose  wealth 
or  keep  it.  If  you  lose  it,  you  do  but  lose  a  part  of  your  abasement ; 
if  you  keep  it,  you  do  not  keep  that  which  setteth  you  the  higher  or 
the  nearer  to  God.  This  is  to  '  possess  all  things  as  if  you  possessed 
them  not,'  1  Cor.  vii.  30 — not  to  have  them  in  your  hearts  when  you 
have  them  in  your  houses.  And  the  truth  is,  this  is  the  way  to  keep 
them  still,  to  be  humble  in  the  possession  of  them :  Mat.  xxiii.  12, 
4  Whosoever  shall  exalt  himself  shall  be  abased,  and  he  that  shall 
humble  himself  shall  be  exalted.'  Kiches  will  be  your  abasement,  if 
you  do  not  think  them  so. 

Obs.  4.  If  we  would  be  made  low  in  the  midst  of  worldly  enjoy 
ments,  we  should  consider  the  uncertainty  of  them.  This  is  the  rea 
son  rendered  by  the  apostle,  '  Because  as  the  flower  of  the  grass  he 
shall  pass  away.'  We  are  worldly,  because  we  forget  the  world's 
vanity  and  our  own  transitoriness  :  Ps.  xlix.  11,  *  Their  inward  thought 
is,  that  their  houses  shall  continue  for  ever,  and  their  dwelling-places 
to  all  generations;  they  call  their  lands  after  their  own  names.' 
Either  we  think  that  we  shall  live  for  ever,  or  leave  our  riches  to 
those  that  will  continue  our  memory  for  ever  ;  that  is,  to  our  chil 
dren,  which  are  but  the  parent  multiplied  and  continued ;  which  is, 
as  one  saith,  nodosa  ceternitas,  a  knotty  eternity.  When  our  thread 
is  spun  out  and  done,  their  thread  is  knit  to  it ;  and  so  we  dream  of  a 
continued  succession  in  our  name  and  family.  But  alas  !  this  inward 
thought  is  but  a  vain  thought— a  sorry  refuge  by  which  man  would 
make  amends  for  the  loss  of  the  true  eternity.  But  in  vain  ;  for  we 
perish,  and  our  estate  too.  Both  your  persons  and  your  condition  are 
transitory.  The  apostle  saith,  '  He  shall  pass  away  like  the  flower  of 
the  grass.'  Man  himself  is  like  the  grass,  soon  withered;  his  condition 
is  like  the  flower  of  the  grass,  gone  with  a  puff  of  wind.  So  1  Peter  i. 
24,  '  All  flesh  is  grass,  and  the  glory  of  man  as  the  flower  of  the  grass/ 
Many  times  the  flower  is  gone  when  the  stalk  remaineth ;  so  man 
seeth  all  that  he  hath  been  gathering  a  long  time  soon  dissipated 
by  the  breath  of  providence,  and  he,  like  a  withered  rotten  stalk, 
liveth  scorned  and  neglected.  The  scriptures  make  use  of  both 
these  arguments — sometimes  our  own  transitoriness,  as  Luke  xii.  20, 
'Thou  fool,  this  night  shall  thy  soul  be  required  of  thee.'  Here 
men  toil,  and  beat  their  brains,  and  tire  their  spirits,  and  rack  their 
consciences ;  and  when  they  have  done  all,  like  silkworms,  they  die  in 
their  work,  and  God  taketh  them  away  ere  they  can  roast  what  ^  they 
get  in  hunting.  Sometimes  the  transitoriness  of  these  outward  things ; 
if  we  do  not  leave  them,  they  may  leave  us.  As  many  a  man  hath 
survived  his  happiness,  and  lived  so  long  as  to  see  himself,  when  his 
flower  is  gone,  to  be  cast  out  upon  the  dunghill  of  scorn  and  contempt. 

70  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  10. 

And,  truly  it  is  a  madness  to  be  proud  of  that  which  may  perish  before 
we  perish,  as  it  is  the  worst  of  miseries  to  outlive  our  own  happiness. 
The  apostle  saith,  1  Tim.  vi.  17,  '  Charge  rich  men  that  they  be  not 
high-minded,  and  trust  not  in  uncertain  riches/  Trust  should  have  a 
sure  object,  for  it  is  the  quiet  repose  of  the  soul  in  the  bosom  of  an 
immutable  good.  Therefore  that  which  is  uncertain  cannot  yield  a 
ground  of  trust.  You  may  entertain  it  with  j  ealousy,  but  not  with  trust ; 
so  Prov.  xxiii.  5,  '  Wilt  thou  set  thine  eyes  upon  that  which  is  not  ?' 
Outward  riches  are  so  far  from  being  the  best  things,  that  they  rather 
are  not  anything  at  all.  Solomon  calleth  them  '  that  which  is  not ;' 
and  who  ever  loved  nothing,  and  would  be  proud  of  that  which  is  not  ? 
Obs.  5.  The  uncertainty  of  worldly  enjoyments  may  be  well  resem 
bled  by  a  flower — beautiful,  but  fading.  The  similitude  is  elsewhere 
used :  I  gave  you  places  in  the  exposition,  let  me  add  a  few  more : 
see  Ps.  ciii.  15,  16,  'As  for  man,  his  days  are  as  grass;  as  a 
flower  of  the  field,  so  he  flour  isheth  :  for  the  wind  passeth  over  it. 
and  it  is  gone,  and  the  place  thereof  shall  know  it  no  more/  When 
the  flower  is  gone,  the  root,  as  afraid,  shrinketh  into  the  ground,  and 
there  remaineth  neither  remnant  nor  sign  ;  so  many  a  man  that 
keepeth  a  bustling,  and  ruffleth  it  in  the  world,  is  soon  snapped  off 
by  providence,  and  there  doth  not  remain  the  least  sign  and  memorial 
of  him.  So  1  Peter  i.  24,  'For  all  flesh  is  as  grass,  and  all  the 
glory  of  man  as  the  flower  of  the  grass  ;  the  grass  withereth,  and  the 
flower  thereof  falleth  away/  It  is  repeated  and  returned  to  our  con 
sideration — '  all  flesh  is  grass/  and  then,  '  the  grass  withereth,'  to  show 
that  we  should  often  whet  it  and  inculcate  it  upon  our  thoughts.  In 
short,  from  this  resemblance  you  may  learn  two  things  : — 

1.  That  though  the  things   of  the  world   are  specious,  yet  they 
should  not  allure  us,  because  they  are  fading.     Flowers  are  sweet,  and 
affect  the  eye,  but  their  beauty  is  soon  scorched :  the  soul  is  for  an 
eternal  good,  that  it  may  have  a  happiness  suitable  to  its  own  dura 
tion.    An  immortal  soul  cannot  have  full  contentment  in  that  which 
is  fading ;  but  this  is  a  point  that  calleth  for  meditation  rather  than 
demonstration.    It  is  easy  to  declaim  upon  the  vanity  of  the  creature : 
it  is  every  man's  object  and  every  man's  subject.     Oh!  but  think  of 
it  seriously,  and   desire  God  to  be  in  your  thoughts.     When  the 
creatures  tempt  you,  be  not  enticed  by  the  beauty  of  them,  so  as  to 
forget   their  vanity.     Say,  Here  is  a  flower,  glorious,   but   fading; 
glass  that  is  bright,  but  brittle. 

2.  The  fairest  things  are  most  fading.     Creatures,  when  they  come 
to  their  excellency,  then  they  decay,  as  herbs,  when  they  come  to 
flower,  they  begin  to  wither ;  or,  as  the  sun  when  it  cometh  to  the 
zenith,  then  it  declineth :  Ps.  xxxix.  5,  '  Man  at  his  best  estate  is 
altogether  vanity ; '  not  at  his  worst  only,  when  the  feebleness  and 
inconveniences  of  old  age  have  surprised  him.     Many,  you  know,  are 
blasted  and  cut  off  in  their  flower,  and  wither  as  soon  as  they  begin 
to  flourish.     Paul  had  a  messenger  of  Satan  presently  upon  his  ecstasy, 
2  Cor.  xii.  7.     So  the  prophet  speaketh  of  '  a  grasshopper  in  the  begin 
ning  of  the  shooting  up  of  the  latter  growth/  Amos  vii.  1.     As  soon 
as  the  ground  recovered  any  verdure  and  greenness,  presently  there 
came  a  grasshopper  to  devour  the  herbage :  the  meaning  is,  a  new 

JAS.  I.  11.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  71 

affliction  as  soon  as  they  began  to  flourish.  Well,  then,  suspect  these 
outward  things  when  you  most  abound  in  them.  David  thought  of 
overthrows  when  God  had  given  him  a  great  victory,  as  Ps.  Ix.  Com 
pare  the  psalm  with  the  title.  So  it  is  good  to  think  of  famine  and 
want  in  the  midst  of  plenty  :  a  man  doth  not  know  what  overturn- 
ings  there  may  be  in  the  world.  The  woman  that  stood  not  in  need 
of  the  prophet,  2  Kings  iv.  13,  '  I  dwell  among  my  own  people/ 
that  is,  I  have  no  need  of  friends  at  court,  yet  afterward  stood  in  need 
of  the  prophet's  man,  2  Kings  viii.  5.  The  Lord  knoweth  how  soon 
your  condition  may  be  turned ;  when  it  seemeth  to  flourish  most,  it 
may  be  near  a  withering. 

Ver.  11.  For  the  sun  is  no  sooner  risen  ivith  a  burning  lieat,  but  it 
withereih  the  grass,  and  the  flower  thereof  falleth,  and  the  grace  of  the 
fashion  of  it  perisheth;  so  also  shall  the  rich  man  fade  aiuay  in  his  ways. 

He  pursueth  the  similitude,  and  in  the  close  of  the  verse  applieth 
it.  There  is  nothing  needeth  illustration  but  the  latter  clause. 

So  shall ;  that  is,  so  may  ;  for  the  passage  is  not  absolutely  defini 
tive  of  what  always  shall  be,  but  only  declarative  of  what  may  be ; 
and,  therefore,  the  future  tense  is  used  for  the  potential  mood.  We 
see,  many  times,  that  *  the  wicked  live,  become  old,  and  mighty  in 
power ;  their  houses  are  safe  from  fear,  neither  is  the  rod  of  God 
upon  them  :  their  bull  gendereth,  and  faileth  not ;  their  cow  calveth, 
and  casteth  not  her  calf/  Job  xxi.  7-10.  Therefore,  I  say,  the  apostle 
showeth  not  what  always  cometh  to  pass,  but  what  may  be,  and 
usually  falleth  out,  and  what  at  length  certainly  will  be  their  portion. 

The  rich  man. — That  is  either  to  be  taken  generally  for  the  rich, 
whether  godly  or  ungodly,  or  more  especially  for  the  ungodly  person 
that  trusteth  in  his  riches. 

Fade  away  /jLapavOrja-ercu,  a  word  proper  to  herbs  when  they  lose 
their  verdure  and  beauty. 

In  his  ways. — Some  read,  as  Erasmus  and  Gagneus,  eV  iropiaLs, 
'  with  his  abundance/  which  reading  Calvin  also  approveth,  as  suit 
ing  better  with  the  context,  '  So  shall  the  rich  and  all  his  abundance 
fade  away ; '  but  the  general  and  more  received  reading  is  that  which 
we  follow,  eV  Tropetcus  in  his  ways  or  journeys  ;  the  word  is  emphatical, 
and  importeth  that  earnest  industry  by  which  men  compass  sea  and 
land,  run  hither  and  thither  in  the  pursuit  of  wealth,  and  yet,  when 
all  is  done,  it  fadeth  like  the  flower  of  the  grass. 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1 .  From  the  continuance  of  the  similitude,  that  the  vanity  of 
flowers  should  hint  thoughts  to  us  about  the  vanity  of  our  own  com 
forts.  We  delight  in  pictures  and  emblems,  for  then  the  soul,  by  the 
help  of  fancy  and  imagination,  hath  a  double  view  of  the  object  in 
the  similitude,  which  is,  as  it  were,  a  picture  of  it,  and  then  the  thing 
itself.  This  was  God's  ancient  way  to  teach  his  people  by  types ;  still 
he  teacheth  us  by  similitudes  taken  from  common  and  ordinary 
objects,  that  when  we  are  cast  upon  them,  spiritual  thoughts  may  be 
awakened ;  and  so  every  ordinary  object  is,  as  it  were,  hallowed  and 
consecrated  to  a  heavenly  purpose.  Well,  then,  let  this  be  your  field 
or  garden  meditation  ;  when  you  see  them  decked  with  a  great  deal  of 
bravery,  remember  all  this  is  gone  in  an  instant  when  the  burning 

72  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  11. 

heat  ariseth.  In  the  text  it  is  (let  me  open  that  by  the  way)  7puo<? 
T&>  Kavo-a)vi,  the  sun  with  a  burning  wind,  so  in  the  original  ;  for 
/cavaojv,  the  word  used  here,  is  usually  put  here  for  a  scorching  wind, 
which,  in  the  hot  and  eastern  countries,  was  wont  to  accompany  the 
rising  of  the  sun  ;  as  Jonah  iv.  8,  '  It  came  to  pass,  when  the  sun  did 
begin  to  arise,  God  prepared  a  vehement  east  wind  ;  '  and,  therefore, 
do  we  read  of  '  the  drying  east  wind/  Ezek.  xvii.  10  ;  and  in  many 
places  of  Hosea.  It  was  a  hot,  piercing  wind  that  blasted  all  things, 
and  was  the  usual  figure  of  God's  judgments  ;  and  so  the  psalmist 
saith,  'The  wind  passeth  over  it,  and  it  is  gone,'  Ps.  ciii.  16.  But 
this  by  the  way,  because  I  omitted  it  in  the  exposition.  When,  I  say, 
you  walk  in  a  garden  or  field,  as  Isaac  did,  to  meditate,  Gen.  xxiv.  63, 
think  thus  with  yourselves  :  Here  is  a  goodly  show  and  paintry  ;  but 
alas  !  these  things  are  but  for  a  season  ;  they  would  fade  away  of 
their  own  accord,  but  the  breath  of  the  east  wind  will  soon  dry  them 
up  ;  so  are  all  worldly  comforts  like  flowers  in  the  spring,  good  in 
their  season,  but  very  vanishing  and  perishing. 

Obs.  2.  That  our  comforts  are  perishing  in  themselves,  but  espe 
cially  when  the  hand  of  providence  is  stretched  out  against  them. 
The  flower  fadeth  of  itself,  but  chiefly  when  it  is  scorched  by  the 
glowing,  burning  east  wind.  Our  hearts  should  be  loose  at  all  times 
from  outward  things,  but  especially  in  times  of  public  desolation  ;  it 
is  a  sin  against  providence  to  affect  great  things  :  when  God  is  over 
turning  all,  then  there  is  a  burning  heat  upon  the  flowers,  and  God 
is  gone  forth  to  blast  worldly  glory  :  Jer.  xlv.  4,  5,  *  The  Lord  saith  r 
I  will  pluck  up  this  whole  land,  and  seekest  thou  great  things  for 
thyself  ?  '  that  is,  a  prosperous  condition  in  a  time  of  public  desola 
tion  ;  it  is  as  if  a  man  should  be  planting  flowers  when  there  is  a 
wind  gone  forth  to  blast  them.  Well,  then,  take  heed  you  do  not 
make  providence  your  enemy,  then  your  comforts  will  become  more 
perishing.  ^  You  cannot  then  expect  a  comfortable  warmth  from  God, 
but  a  burning  heat.  There  are  three  sins  especially  by  which  you 
make  providence  your  enemy,  and  so  the  creatures  more  vain. 

1.  When  you  abuse  them  to  serve  your  lusts.      Where  there  is 
pride  and  wantonness,  you  may  look  for  a  burning  ;  certainly  your 
flowers  will  be  scorched  and  dried  up.     Pleasant  Sodom,  when  it  was- 
given  to  '  pride,  and  idleness,  and  fulness  of  bread/  met  with  a  burn 
ing  heat  indeed,  Ezek.  xvi.  49  :  in  Salvian's  phrase,1  God  will  rain 
hell  out  of  heaven  rather  than  not  visit  for  such  sins. 

2.  When  you  make  them  objects  of  trust.  God  can  brook  no  rivals  ; 
trust  being  the  fairest  and  best  respect  of  the  creatures,  it  must  not  be 
intercepted,  but  ascend  to  God.     If  you  make  idols  of  the  creatures, 
God  will  make  nothing  of  them  ;  the  fire  of  God's  jealousy  is  a  burn 
ing  heat.     God  took  away  from  Judah  the  staff  and  the  stay,  Isa. 
iii.  1  ;  that  is,  that  which  they  made  so,  excluding  him  ;  for  that  is  the 
case  in  the  context.     So  when  you  trust  in  your  wealth,  as  if  it  must 
needs  be  well  with  your  families,  and  you  were  secured  against  all 
judgments,  and  turns  of  providence  ;  certainly  God  will  take  away  the 
staff  and  the  stay,  and  show  that  riches  are  but  dead  helps,  when  they 
are  preferred  before  the  living  God,  1  Tim.  vi.  17. 

1  'Pluit  Gehennam  e  coelo.'  —  Salvian  de  Provid. 

JAS.  I.  11.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  73 

3.  When  you  get  them  by  wrong  means.  Wealth  thus  gotten  is 
flesh  (like  the  eagles  from  the  altar)  with  a  coal  in  it,  that  devoureth 
the  whole  nest:  Hab.  ii.  9,  'Woe  be  to  him  that  coveteth  an  evil 
covetousness,  that  he  may  set  his  nest  on  high,  that  he  may  be  de 
livered  from  the  power  of  evil.'  You  think  it  is  a  ready  way  to 
advance  you  ;  no,  this  is  the  ready  way  to  ruin  all :  James  v.  3,  '  Your 
gold  and  silver  shall  be  a  witness  against  you,  and  shall  eat  your  flesh 
as  it  were  fire;'  that  is,  draw  the  fire  and  burning  heat  of  God's 
wrath  upon  yourselves  and  families. 

From  that  his  ways. 

Obs.  3.  Worldly  men  pursue  wealth  with  great  care  and  industry. 
The  rich  turneth  hither  and  thither,  he  hath  several  ways  whereby  to 
accomplish  his  ends.  In  self-denial,  covetousness  is  the  ape  of  grace  ; 
it  '  suffereth  all  things,  believeth  all  things,  hopeth  all  things,'  1  Cor. 
xiii.  6,  7.  What  pains  do  men  take  for  things  that  perish !  Do  but 
observe  their  incessant  care,  earnest  labour,  and  unwearied  industry, 
and  say,  how  well  would  this  suit  with  the  heavenly  treasure !  It  is  a 
pity  a  plant  that  would  thrive  so  well  in  Canaan  should  still  grow  in 
the  soil  of  Egypt ;  that  the  zealous  earnestness  of  the  soul  should  be 
misplaced,  and  we  should  take  more  pains  to  be  rich  unto  the  world 
than  to  be  rich  towards  God.  Luke  xii.  21.  Man  fallen  is  but  the  ana 
gram  of  man  in  innocency,  he  hath  the  same  affections  and  delights,  only 
they  are  transposed  and  misplaced;  therefore  do  we  offend  in  the 
measure,  because  we  mistake  in  the  object.  Or  else,  secondly,  observe 
their  pains  and  care,  and  say  thus :  Shall  a  lust  have  more  power 
upon  them  than  the  love  of  God  upon  me  ?  I  have  higher  motives, 
and  a  reward  more  sure,  Prov.  xi.  18 ;  they  are  more  earnest  for  an 
earthly  purchase,  and  to  heap  up  treasure  to  themselves,  than  I  am  to 
enrich  my  soul  with  spiritual  and  heavenly  excellences.  Surely  grace 
is  an  active  thing,  of  as  forcible  an  efficacy  as  corruption ;  why  then 
do  we  act  with  such  difference  and  disproportion  ?  The  fault  is  not 
in  grace,  but  in  ourselves.  Grace  is  like  a  keen  weapon  in  a  child's 
hand ;  it  maketh  little  impression  because  it  is  weakly  wielded. 
Worldly  men  have  the  advantage  of  us  in  matter  of  principle,  but  we 
have  the  advantage  of  them  in  matter  of  motive ;  we  have  higher 
motives,  but  they  more  entire  principles,  for  what  they  do,  they  do 
with  their  whole  heart ;  but  our  principles  are  mixed,  and  therefore 
grace  worketh  with  a  greater  faintness  than  corruption  doth.  But, 
however,  it  is  sad.  Pambus,  in  ecclesiastical  history,  wept  when  he 
saw  a  harlot  dressed  with  much  care  and  cost,  partly  to  see  one  take 
so  much  pains  for  her  own  undoing,  partly  because  he  had  not  been 
so  careful  to  please  God  as  she  had  been  to  please  a  wanton  lover. 
And  truly  when  we  see  men  '  cumber  themselves  with  much  serving,' 
and  toiling  and  bustling  up  and  down  in  the  world,  and  all  for  riches 
that  'take  themselves  wings  and  fly  away/  we  may  be  ashamed 
that  we  do  so  little  for  Christ,  and  they  do  so  much  for  wealth,  and 
that  we  do  not  lay  out  our  strength  and  earnestness  for  heaven  with 
any  proportion  to  what  they  do  for  the  world. 

Obs.  4.  Lastly,  again,  from  that  eV  rat?  Tropetais,  from  his  ways  or 
journeys.  All  our  endeavours  will  be  fruitless  if  God's  hand  be 
against  us.  As  the  flower  to  the  burning  heat,  so  is  the  rich  man  in 

74  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  1.  12. 

his  ways ;  that  is,  notwithstanding  all  his  industry  and  care,  God  may 
soon  blast  him  :  they  '  earned  wages,  but  put  it  in  a  bag  with  holes/ 
Hag.  i.  6 ;  that  is,  their  gains  did  not  thrive  with  them.  Peter 
'  toiled  all  night  but  caught  nothing/  till  he  took  Christ  into  the  boat, 
Luke  v.  5.  So  you  will  catch  nothing,  nothing  with  comfort  and 
profit,  till  you  take  God  along  with  you  :  Ps.  cxxvii.  2,  '  It  is  vain  for 
you  to  rise  up  early,  to  sit  up  late,  to  eat  the  bread  of  sorrows :  for  so 
he  giveth  his  beloved  sleep/  Some  take  this  place  in  a  more  particular 
and  restrained  sense  ;  as  if  David  would  intimate  that  all  their  agita 
tions  to  oppose  the  reign  of  Solomon,  though  backed  with  much  care 
and  industry,  should  be  fruitless;  though  Absalom  and  Adonijah 
were  tortured  with  the  care  of  their  own  ambitious  designs,  yet  God 
would  give  Jedidiah,  or  his  beloved,  rest ;  that  is,  the  kingdom  should 
quietly  and  safely  be  devolved  upon  Solomon,  who  took  no  such  pains 
to  court  the  people,  and  to  raise  himself  up  into  their  esteem  as  Absa 
lom  and  Adonijah  did ;  and  they  ground  this  exposition  partly  on  the 
title  of  the  psalm,  '  a,  psalm  for  Solomon/  partly  on  the  name  of  Solo 
mon,  who  was  called  Jedidijah,  or  the  beloved  of  the  Lord,  2  Sam. 
xii.  24,  25,  the  word  used  here,  '  he  giveth  his  beloved  rest.'  But  I 
suppose  this  sense  is  too  curious ;  for  though  the  psalm  be  entitled  to 
Solomon,  yet  I  think  not  so  much  by  way  of  prophecy  as  direction : 
for  as  the  72d  Psalm  (which  also  beareth  title  for  Solomon)  repre- 
senteth  to  him  the  model  of  a  kingdom  and  the  -affairs  thereof,  so  this 
psalm,  the  model  of  a  family,  with  the  incident  cares  and  blessings  of 
it ;  and  therefore  the  passages  of  it  are  of  a  more  universal  and  un 
limited  concernment  than  to  be  appropriated  to  Solomon ;  and  it  is 
not  to  be  neglected  that  the  Septuagint  turn  the  Hebrew  word  plurally, 
rot?  dyaTTTiTow  avrov  VTTVOV,  '  his  beloved  ones  sleep/  showing  that  the 
sentence  is  general.  The  meaning  is,  then,  that  though  worldly  men 
fare  never  so  hardly,  beat  their  brains,  tire  their  spirits,  rack  their 
consciences,  yet  many  times  all  is  for  nothing ;  either  God  doth  not 
give  them  an  estate,  or  not  the  comfort  of  it.  But  his  beloved,  with 
out  any  of  these  racking  cares,  enjoy  contentment:  if  they  have  not 
the  world,  they  have  sleep  and  rest ;  with  silence  submitting  to  the 
will  of  God,  and  with  quietness  waiting  for  the  blessing  of  God.  Well, 
then,  acknowledge  the  providence  that  you  may  come  under  the  bless 
ing  ^  of  it;  labour  without  God  cannot  prosper;  against  God  and 
against  his  will  in  his  word,  will  surely  miscarry. 

Ver.  12.  Blessed  is  the  man  that  endureth  temptation;  for  when  he 
is  tried,  he  shall  receive  the  crown  of  life,  which  the  Lord  hath  pro 
mised  to  them  that  love  him. 

Here  the  apostle  concludeth  all  the  former  discourse  with  a  general 
sentence.  I  shall  despatch  it  very  briefly,  because  the  matter  of  it  often 
occurreth  in  this  epistle. 

Blessed;  that  is,  already  blessed.  They  are  not  miserable,  as  the 
world  judgeth  them :  it  is  a  Christian  paradox,  wherein  there  is  an 
allusion  to  what  is  said,  Job  v.  17,  '  Behold,  happy  is  the  man  whom 
God  correcteth  ; '  it  is  a  wonder,  and  therefore  he  calleth  the  world  to 
see  it — Behold  I  So  the  apostle,  in  an  opposition  to  the  judgment  of 
the  world,  saith,  Blessed. 

Is  the  man,  dvrjp. — The  word  used  is  only  proper  to  the  masculine 

JAS.  I.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  75 

sex,  and  therefore  some l  have  forced  and  obtruded  some  misshapen 
conceits  upon  this  scripture ;  whereas  throughout  the  epistle  we  shall 
observe  our  apostle  delighteth  in  the  use  of  this  word  for  both  sexes ; 
as  ver.  23,  avSpi,  TrapaKvtyavri,,  ( A  man  beholding  his  face/  &c.,  in 
tending  a  man  or  woman,  for  it  answereth  to  the  Hebrew  word  iscli, 
under  which  the  woman  also  was  comprehended. 

That  endureth,  o?  vTropevei — that  is,  that  patiently  and  constantly 
beareth.  A  wicked  man  suffereth,  but  he  doth  not  endure:  they  suffer, 
but  unwillingly,  with  murmuring  and  blasphemy ;  but  the  godly  man 
endureth ;  that  is,  beareth  the  affliction  with  patience  and  constancy ; 
without  murmuring,  fainting,  or  blaspheming.  Enduring  is  taken  in 
a  good  sense ;  as  Heb.  xii.  7,  *  If  ye  endure  chastening,  God  dealeth 
with  you  as  sons.'  God  is  not  perceived  to  deal  as  a  father,  but  when 
the  affliction  is  patiently  borne,  which  the  apostle  calleth  enduring 

Temptation. — Affliction  is  so  called,  as  before ;  in  itself  it  is  a  pun 
ishment  of  sin,  but  to  the  godly  but  a  trial ;  as  death,  the  king  of 
terrors,  or  highest  of  afflictions,  is  in  itself  the  wages  of  sin,  but  to 
them,  the  gate  of  eternal  life. 

For  ivlien  lie  is  tried,  So/ayuo?  yevopevos. — The  word  is  often  trans 
lated  approved:  Rom.  xiv.  18,  '  Approved  of  man ; '  it  is  8o/a//.o<?. 
So  1  Cor.  xi.  19,  '  That  BOKIJIOI,  they  which  are  approved  may  be 
made  manifest ; '  so  here,  when  he  is  made  or  found  approved,  that  is, 
right  and  sound  in  the  faith ;  it  is  a  metaphor  taken  from  metals, 
whose  excellence  is  discerned  in  the  fire. 

He  shall  receive;  that  is,  freely;  for  though  none  be  crowned  with 
out  striving,  2  Tim.  ii.  5,  yet  they  are  not  crowned  for  striving ;  as 
in  the  scripture  it  is  said  in  many  places,  God  will  give  every  man 
according  to  his  work,  yet  not  for  his  work,  for  such  passages  do  only 
imply  (as  Ferus,2  a  Papist,  also  granteth)  that  as  evil  works  shall  not 
remain  unpunished,  so  neither  shall  good  works  be  unrewarded. 

A  crown  of  life. — It  is  usual  in  scripture  to  set  forth  the  gifts  of 
God  by  a  crown,  sometimes  to  note  the  honour  that  God  putteth  upon 
the  creatures :  '  Thou  hast  crowned  him  with  glory  and  honour,'  Ps. 
viii.  5  ;  sometimes  to  note  the  all-sufficiency  of  God's  love.  It  is  as  a 
crown  ;  on  every  side  there  are  experiences  of  it :  so  it  is  said,  Ps.  ciii. 
4,  '  He  crowneth  thee  with  loving-kindness  and  tender  mercies  : '  but 
most  usually  it  is  applied  to  the  heavenly  estate : — (1.)  Partly  to  note 
the  honour  of  it,  as  a  crown  is  the  emblem  of  majesty ;  and  so  it  noteth 
that  imperial  and  kingly  dignity  to  which  we  are  advanced  in  Christ : 
Luke  xxii.  29,  '  I  appoint  unto  you  a  kingdom,  as  my  Father  hath 
appointed  unto  me/  Christ,  that  left  us  the  cross,  hath  left  us  his 
crown  also :  one  of  Christ's  legacies  to  the  church  is  his  own  cross ; 
therefore  Luther  saith,  Ecclesia  est  hceres  crucis — the  church  is  heir  of 
the  cross.  So  you  see  in  this  place  he  saith  Sum'^/u,  I  do  by  will  and 
testament — so  the  word  signifieth — dispose  a  kingdom  to  you;  and 
that  is  one  reason  why  heavenly  glory  is  expressed  by  a  crown.  (2.) 
To  note  the  endless  and  perpetual  fulness  that  is  in  it :  roundness  is 

_ 1  '  Beatus  vir,  non  mollis  vel  effceminatus,  sed  vir,  dictus  a  virtute  animi,  virore  fidei, 
vigore  spei.' — Aquinas  in  locum. 
2  Ferus  in  Mat.  in  cap.  16.  v.  27. 

76  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  12. 

an  emblem  of  plenty  and  perpetuity  ;  there  is  somewhat  on  every  side, 
and  there  is  no  end  in  it:  so  Ps.  xvi.  11,  'In  thy  presence  is  fulness 
of  joy,  and  pleasures  for  evermore/  (3.)  To  note  that  it  is  given 
after  striving ;  it  was  a  reward  of  conquest ;  there  was  a  crown  set  be 
fore  those  that  ran  a  race :  to  which  use  the  apostle  alludeth,  1  Cor. 
ix.  24,  25 :  '  They  which  run  a  race  run  all,  but  one  receiveth  the 
prize :  so  run  that  ye  may  obtain.  Now,  they  do  it  to  obtain  a  cor 
ruptible  crown,  but  we  an  incorruptible ; '  that  is,  in  the  races  and 
Isthmic  games  near  Corinth,  the  reward  was  only  some  garland  of 
flowers  and  herbs,  which  soon  faded ;  but  we  run  for  an  incorruptible 
crown  of  glory ;  or,  as  another  apostle  calleth  it,  '  A  crown  of  glory 
that  fadeth  not  away,'  1  Peter  v.  4.  Thus  you  see  why  heaven  is 
expressed  by  a  crown  ;  now  sometimes  it  is  called  '  a  crown  of  glory,' 
to  note  the  splendour  of  it ;  sometimes  '  a  crown  of  righteousness/  2 
Tim.  iv.  8,  to  note  the  ground  and  rise  of  it,  which  is  God's  truth 
engaged  by  a  promise,  called  God's  righteousness  in  scripture  :  some 
times  it  is  called  '  a  crown  of  life,'  as  Eev.  ii.  10,  '  Be  faithful  unto 
death,  and  I  will  give  thee  a  crown  of  life ; '  because  it  is  not  to  be 
had  but  in  eternal  or  everlasting  life :  or  else,  to  note  the  duration  of 
it ;  it  is  not  a  dying,  withering  crown,  as  the  garland  of  flowers,  but  a 
living  crown,  such  as  will  flourish  to  all  eternity. 

Which  the  Lord  hath  promised. — This  is  added,  partly  to  show  the 
certainty  of  it — we  have  the  assurance  of  a  promise  ;  partly  to  note  the 
ground  of  expectation — not  by  virtue  of  our  own  merits,  but  God's 
promise.  Now  there  is  no  particular  promise  alleged,  because  it  is 
the  general  drift  of  the  whole  word  of  God.  In  the  law  there  is  a  pro 
mise  of  mercy :  '  To  a  thousand  generations,  to  them  that  love  him,' 
Exod.  xx.  6.  When  all  things  were  '  after  the  manner  of  a  carnal  com 
mandment,'  the  expressions  of  the  promises  were  also  carnal  •  and  that 
is  the  reason  why,  in  the  Old  Testament,  the  blessings  of  the  promises 
are  expressed  by  *  a  fat  portion,'  *  long  life,'  and  a  '  blessing  upon  pos 
terity  ; '  for  all  these  expressions  were  not  to  be  taken  in  the  rigour  of 
the  letter,  but  as  figures  of  heavenly  joys  and  eternal  life :  and  there 
fore,  what  was  in  the  commandment, '  mercy  to  a  thousand  generations, 
to  them  that  love  him,'  is  in  the  apostle,  '  a  crown  of  life  to  them  thai 
love  him,'  the  mystery  of  the  expression  being  opened  and  unveiled. 

To  them  that  love  him. — A  usual  description  of  the  people  of  God. 
But  why  them  that  love  him,  rather  than  them  that  serve  or  obey 
him,  or  some  other  description?  I  answer — (1.)  Because  love  is  the 
sum  of  the  whole  law,  and  the  hinge  upon  which  all  the  command 
ments  turn  :  this  is  the  one  word  into  which  the  Decalogue  is  abridged  ; 
therefore  Paul  saith,  Kom.  xiii.  10,  that  '  love  is  vrX^co^a  vo/^ov,  the 
fulfilling  of  the  law.'  (2.)  Because  it  is  the  great  note  of  our  interest 
in  Christ :  faith  giveth  a  right  in  the  promises,  and  love  evidenceth  it ; 
therefore  is  it  so  often  specified  as  the  condition  of  the  promises,  the 
condition  that  evidenceth  our  interest  in  them ;  as  James  ii.  5,  '  The 
kingdom  which  he  hath  promised  to  them  that  love  him.'  He  doth 
not  say  'fear  him/  or  *  trust  in  him/  though  these  graces  also  are  im 
plied,  but  chiefly  '  to  them  that  love  him.'  So  Kom.  viii.  28,  '  All 
things  work  together  for  good  to  them  that  love  God,  to  them  that 
are  called  according  to  his  purpose : '  where  love  of  God,  you  see,  is 

JAS.  I.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  77 

made  the  discovery  both  of  effectual  calling  and  election.  (3.)  Be 
cause  patience  is  the  fruit  of  love  :  Nihil  est  quod  non  tolerat  quiper- 
fecte  diligit — he  that  loveth  much  will  suffer  much :  and  therefore 
when  the  apostle  speaketh  of  enduring  temptations,  he  encourageth 
them  by  the  crown  of  life  promised  to  them  that  love  God :  a  man 
would  not  suffer  for  him,  unless  he  did  love  him. 

I  shall  give  you  the  notes  briefly. 

Obs.  1.  Afflictions  do  not  make  the  people  of  God  miserable.  There 
is  a  great  deal  of  difference  between  a  Christian  and  a  man  of  the 
world :  his  best  estate  is  vanity,  Ps.  xxxix.  5  ;  and  a  Christian's 
worst  is  happiness.  He  that  loveth  God  is  like  a  die  ;  cast  him  high 
or  low,  he  is  still  upon  a  square : x  he  may  be  sometimes  afflicted,  but 
he  is  always  happy.  There  is  a  double  reason  for  it : — 

1.  Because  outward  misery  cannot  diminish  his  happiness. 

2.  Because  sometimes  it  doth  increase  it. 

1.  Afflictions  cannot  diminish  his  happiness :  a  man  is  never  miser 
able  till  he  hath  lost  his  happiness.     Our  comfort  lieth  much  in  the 
choice  of  our  chiefest  good.     They  that  say,  '  Happy  is  the  people  that 
is  in  such  a  case/  Ps.  cxliv.  12-15 ;  that  is,  where  there  is  no  com 
plaining  in  their  streets,  sheep  bringing  forth  thousands,  garners  full, 
oxen  strong  to  labour,  &c.,  they  may  be  soon  miserable :  all  these 
things  may  be  gone,  with  an  easy  turn  of  providence,  as  Job  lost  all 
in  an  instant.     But  they  that  say,  '  Happy  is  the  people  whose  God  is 
the  Lord,'  that  is,  that  count  it  their  happiness  to  enjoy  God,  when 
they  lose  all,  they  may  be  happy,  because  they  have  not  lost  God. 
Our  afflictions  discover  our  choice   and  affections;    when   outward 
crosses  are  the  greatest  evil,  it  is  a  sign  God  was  not  the  chiefest  good  ; 
for  our  grief,  in  the  absence  ©f  any  comfort,  is  according  to  the  happi 
ness  that  we  fancied  in  the  enjoyment  of  it.     One  that  hath  setup  his 
rest  in  God  can  rejoice  in  his  interest,  '  though  the  fields  should  yield 
no  meat,  and  the  flock  should  be  cut  off  from  the  fold,  and  there 
should  be  no  herd  in  the  stalls.'     These  are  great  evils,  and  soon  felt 
by  a  carnal  heart ;  yet  the  prophet,  in  the  person  of  all  believers,  saith, 
Hab.  iii.  18,  '  I  will  joy  in  the  Lord,  and  rejoice  in  the  God  of  my 
salvation/     In  the  greatest  defect  and  want  of  earthly  things  there  is 
happiness,  and  comfort  enough  in  a  covenant-interest. 

2.  Sometimes  afflictions  increase  their  happiness,  as  they  occasion 
more  comfort  and  further  experience  of  grace :  God  seldom  afflicteth 
in  vain.     Such  solemn  providences  and  dispensations  leave  us  better 
or  worse,  the  children  of  God  gain  profit  by  them,  for  it  is  God's 
course  to  recompense  outward  losses  with  inward  enjoyments :  2  Cor. 
i.  5,  '  For  as  the  sufferings  of  Christ  abound  in  us,  so  also  consolation 
aboundeth  by  Christ;'   that  is,   inward   comforts  and  experiences, 
according  to  the  rate  of  outward  sufferings.     Now  he  hath  not  the 
heart  of  a  Christian  thai;  can  think  himself  more  happy  in  temporal 
commodities  than  spiritual  experiences :  a  wilderness  that  giveth  us 
more  of  God  is  to  be  preferred  above  all  the  pleasures  and  treasures 
of  Egypt.     Learn,  then,  that  they  may  be  blessed  whom  men  count 
miserable.      They  are  not  always  happy  to  whom  all  things  happen 
according  to  their  desires,  but  they  that  endure  evil  with  victory  and 

1  "lerpdyuvos  dvrjp. — Arist.' 

78  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  12. 

patience ;  the  world  judge  th  according  to  outward  appearance,  and 
therefore  is  often  mistaken.  Nemo  atiorum  sensu  miser  est,  sed  suo, 
saith  Salvian1 — a  godly  man's  happiness,  or  misery,  is  not  to  be 
judged  by  the  world's  sense  or  feeling,  but  his  own  ;  his  happiness  and 
yours  differ.  The  apostle  saith,  1  Cor.  xv.  19,  'If  our  hopes  were 
only  in  this  world,  we  were  of  all  men  most  miserable ; '  if  worldly 
enjoyments  were  our  blessedness,  a  Christian  might  not  only  be  miser 
able,  but  c  most  miserable.'  The  main  difference  between  a  worldly 
man  and  a  gracious  man  is  in  their  chiefest  good  and  their  utmost 
end ;  and  therefore  a  worldly  man  cannot  judge  of  a  spiritual  man's 
happiness.  But,  saith  the  apostle,  1  Cor.  ii.  15,  '  The  spiritual  man 
judgeth  all  things,  and  he  himself  is  judged  of  no  man : '  you  think 
that  their  estate  is  misery,  but  they  know  that  yours  is  vanity.  You 
cannot  judge  them,  but  by  the  light  of  the  Spirit  they  judge  all 
things.  They  that  count  God  their  chiefest  good  know  no  other  evil 
but  the  darkening  of  his  countenance ;  in  all  other  cases,  '  Blessed  is 
he  that  endureth : '  they  lose  nothing  by  affliction,  but  their  sins. 

Obs.  2.  Of  all  afflictions  those  are  sweetest  which  we  endure  for 
Christ's  sake.  The  apostle  saith,  '  Blessed  are  they  that  endure  temp 
tation  ; '  that  is,  persecution  for  religion's  sake.  The  immediate  strokes 
of  providence  are  more  properly  corrections ;  the  violences  of  men 
against  us  are  more  properly  trials ;  there  is  comfort  and  blessedness 
in  corrections,  namely,  when  we  receive  profit  by  them :  Ps.  xciv.  12, 
'Blessed  is  the  man  whom  thou  chastenest,  0  Lord,  and  instructest 
out  of  thy  law/  Mark,  when  the  chastening  is  from  the  Lord,  there 
is  comfort  in  it,  if  there  be  instruction  in  it :  but  it  is  far  more  sweet 
when  we  are  merely  called  to  suffer  for  a  good  conscience :  Mat.  v. 
10,  '  Blessed  are  they  which  are  persecuted  for  righteousness'  sake/ 
There  is  the  blessedness  more  clear.  Corrections  aim  at  the  mortify 
ing  of  sin,  and  so  are  more  humbling :  but  trials  aim  at  the  discovery 
of  grace,  and  so  are  more  comfortable.  Corrections  imply  guilt ; 
either  we  have  sinned,  or  are  likely  to  sin,  and  then  God  taketh  the 
rod  in  hand.  But  trials  befall  us,  that  the  world  may  know  our  will 
ingness  to  choose  the  greatest  affliction  before  the  least  sin,  and  there 
fore  must  needs  be  matter  of  more  joy  and  blessedness  to  us.  In 
short,  corrections  are  a  discovery  and  silent  reproof  of  our  corruptions ; 
but  trials  a  discovery  and  public  manifestation  of  our  innocency,  not  a 
reproof,  so  much  as  an  honour  and  grace  to  us.  Well,  then,  when  you 
are  called  to  suffer  for  Christ,  apply  this  comfort :  it  is  a  blessed  thing 
to  endure  evil  for  that  cause ;  only  be  sure  your  hearts  be  upright,  that 
it  be  for  Christ  indeed,  and  your  hearts  be  right  with  Christ. 

1.  That  it  be  for  Christ.    It  is  not  the  blood  and  suffering  that 
maketh  the  martyr,  but  the  cause.     We  are  all  apt  to  entitle  our 
quarrel  to  Christ,  therefore  we  should  go  upon  the  more  sure  grounds. 
The  glory  of  our  sufferings  is  marred  when  there  is  somewhat  of  an 
evil  deed  in  them,  1  Peter  iv.  15.     And  we  cannot  be  so  cheerful  as 
in  a  cause  purely  religious ;  evils  are  not  welcomed  that  come  mixed 
in  our  thoughts,  partly  trial,  and  partly  punishment. 

2.  That  your  heart  be  right  for  Christ.     The  form  of  religion  may 
many  times  draw  a  persecution  upon  itself,  as  well  as  the  power  ,  the 

1  Sal.  de  Gub.  Dei,  lib.  i. 

JAS.  I.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  79 

world  hateth  both,  though  the  form  less.  Oh  I  how  sad  is  it  that  a 
man  cometh  to  suffer,  and  he  hath  nothing  to  bear  him  out  but  an 
empty  form.  Either  such  kind  of  persons  '  make  shipwreck  of  a  good 
conscience,'  or  else,  out  of  an  obstinacy  to  their  faction,  do  but  sacri 
fice  a  stout  body  to  a  stubborn  mind  ;  or,  which  is  worse,  have  nothing 
to  support  them  but  the  low  principles  of  vainglory  and  worldly 
applause.  Oh !  consider,  there  is  no  blessedness  in  such  sufferings ; 
then  may  you  suffer  cheerfully  when  you  appeal  to  God's  omnisciency 
for  your  uprightness,  as  they  do  in  the  psalm,  '  The  Lord  knoweth 
the  secrets  of  the  heart ;  yea,  for  thy  sake  are  we  slain  all  the  day 
long/  Ps.  xliv.  21 ,  22.  Can  you  appeal  to  the  God  that  knoweth 
secrets,  and  say,  For  thy  sake  are  we  exposed  to  such  hazards  in  the 
world  ? 

Obs.  3.  From  that  when  he  is  tried,  note  that  before  crowning 
there  must  be  a  trial.  We  have  no  profit  at  all  by  the  affliction, 
neither  grace  nor  glory,  till  there  be  some  wrestling  and  exercise  ;  for 
grace,  the  apostle  showeth  plainly,  Heb.  xii.  11,  'It  yieldeth  the  quiet 
fruits  of  righteousness,  rot?  yejv^ao-^evo^,  to  them  that  are  exercised 
thereby.'  The  pleasantness  and  blessedness  is  not  found  by  and  by, 
but  after  much  struggling  and  wrestling  with  God  in  prayer,  long 
acquaintance  with  the  affliction.  So  for  glory,  the  apostle  showeth 
here,  '  when  he  is  proved,  he  shall  receive  a  crown.'  In  the  building 
of  the  temple  the  stones  were  first  carved  and  hewed,  that  the  sound 
of  hammer  might  not  be  heard  in  God's  house ;  so  the  living  stones 
are  first  hewn  before  they  are  set  in  the  New  Jerusalem.  The  apostle 
saith,  2  Tim.  ii.  5,  '  If  a  man  strive  for  masteries,  he  is  not  crowned 
unless  he  strive  lawfully ; '  that  is,  unless  he  perform  the  conditions 
and  laws  of  the  exercise  in  which  he  is  engaged,  he  cannot  expect  the 
reward  ;  so  neither  can  we  from  God  till  we  have  passed  through  all 
the  stages  of  Christianity.  The  trial  doth  not  merit  heaven,  but 
always  goeth  before  it.  Before  we  are  brought  to  glory,  God  will 
first  wean  us  from  sin  and  the  world,  which  the  apostle  calleth  a  being 
1  made  meet  for  the  inheritance  of  the  saints  in  light,'  Col.  i.  12. 
And  this  work  is  helped  on  by  many  afflictions.  Those  serve  to  make 
us  meet  for  the  communion  of  saints,  not  to  merit  it.  When  God 
crowneth  us,  he  doth  but  crown  his  own  gifts  in  us.1  Well,  then, 
bear  your  trials  with  the  more  patience.  It  is  said,  Acts  xiv.  22, 
that  Paul  'confirmed  the  souls  of  the  disciples,  showing  that 
through  much  tribulation  we  must  enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God.' 
It  is  the  common  lot.  There  is  none  goeth  to  heaven  without  their 
trial.  As  the  way  to  Canaan  lay  through  a  howling  wilderness  and 
desert,  so  the  path  to  heaven  lieth  through  much  affliction.  He  that 
passeth  his  life  without  trial  knoweth  not  himself,  nor  hath  no  oppor 
tunity  to  discover  his  uprightness.2 

06s.  4.  That  it  is  good  to  oppose  the  glory  of  our  hopes  against  the 
abasure  of  our  sufferings.  Here  are  trials,  but  we  look  for  a  crown 
of  glory.  This  is  the  way  to  counterpoise  the  temptation,  and  in  the 

1  'Deus  nihil  coronat  nisi  dona  sua.' — Aug.,  lib.  v.  horn.  14. 

2  'Miseruin  te  judico  quod  nunquam  fuisti  miser;  transistis  sine  adversario  yitam;  nemo 
sciet  quid  potueris ;   ne  tu  quidem  ipse  ;  opus  est  ad  notitiam  sui  experimento,  quso 
quisque  posset  nisi  tentando  non  didicit.' — Sen.  lib.  de  Provid.,  cap.  4. 

80  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  12. 

conflict  between  the  flesh  and  spirit,  to  come  in  to  the  relief  of  the 
better  part.  Thus  Paul  saith,  the  inward  man  is  strengthened, 
*  When  we  look  not  to  the  things  that  are  seen,  but  the  things  that 
are  not  seen;  for  the  things  that  are  seen  are  temporal,  but  the 
things  that  are  not  seen  are  eternal,'  2  Cor.  iv.  18.  A  direct  opposi 
tion  of  our  hopes  to  our  sufferings  maketh  them  seem  light  and  easy. 
Thus  our  Saviour  biddeth  us  consider,  '  When  you  are  persecuted  for 
righteousness'  sake,  yours  is  the  kingdom  of  God/  Mat.  v.  10. 
Though  ye  be  deprived  of  all  you  have,  yet  ye  cannot  be  deprived 
of  heaven.  Eemember,  heaven  is  still  yours.  You  may  lose  an 
estate,  but  you  have  an  assurance  of  a  crown  of  glory.  Thus  Basil 
speaketh  of  some  martyrs  that  were  cast  out  all  night  naked  in  a  cold 
frosty  time,  and  were  to  be  burned  the  next  day,  how  they  comforted 
themselves  in  this  manner  :  *  The  winter  is  sharp,  but  paradise  is 
sweet  ;  here  we  shiver  for  cold,  but  the  bosom  of  Abraham  will  make 
amends  for  all/  &C.1  Well,  then,  make  use  of  this  heavenly  wisdom  ; 
consider  your  hopes,  the  glory  of  them,  the  truth  of  them. 

1.  The  glory  of  them.  There  are  two  things  trouble  men  in  their 
sufferings  —  disgrace  and  death.  See  what  provision  God  hath  made 
against  these  fears  :  he  hath  promised  a  crown  against  the  ignominy 
of  your  sufferings,  and  against  temporal  death  a  crown  of  life.  A 
man  can  lose  nothing  for  God,  but  it  is  abundantly  recompensed  and 
made  up  again  ;  the  crown  of  thorns  is  turned  into  a  crown  of  glory, 
and  losing  of  life  is  the  ready  way  to  save  it,  Mat.  x.  39.  Thus,  it 
is  good,  you  see,  to  oppose  our  hopes  to  our  sorrows,  and  not  altogether 
to  look  to  the  present  dangers  and  sufferings,  but  to  the  crown,  the 
crown  of  life  that  is  laid  up  for  us.2  Extreme  misery,  without  hope 
of  redress,  overwhelmeth  the  soul  ;  and,  therefore,  the  promises  do 
everywhere  oppose  a  proper  comfort  to  that  case  where  the  feeling  is 
like  to  be  sorest,  that  faith  may  have  a  present  and  ready  answer  to 
such  extremities  as  sense  urgeth  ;  as  Stephen,  in  the  midst  of  his 
sufferings,  '  looked  steadfastly  into  heaven,  and  saw  the  glory  of  God, 
and  Jesus  standing  at  the  right  hand  of  God/  Acts  vii.  55.  There 
was  somewhat  of  miracle  and  extraordinary  ecstasy  in  that  vision, 
the  glory  of  heaven  being  not  only  represented  to  his  soul,  but  to  his 
senses  ;  but  it  was  a  pledge  of  that  which  falleth  out  ordinarily 
in  the  sufferings  of  God's  children,  for  their  hearts  are  then 
usually  raised  to  a  more  fixed  and  distinct  consideration  of  their  hopes, 
whereby  the  danger  arid  temptation  is  defeated  and  overcome.  It  is 
very  observable  that  when  Moses  and  Elijah  came  to  speak  with 
Christ  about  his  sufferings,  they  appeared  in  such  forms  of  glory  as 
did  allay  the  sharpness  of  the  message  ;  for  it  is  said,  Luke  ix.  31, 
'  They  appeared  in  glory,  and  spake  of  his  decease  which  he  should 
accomplish  at  Jerusalem  ;  '  intimating  that  the  crown  of  thorns 
should  put  us  in  mind  of  the  crown  of  glory  ;  and  when  we  are 
clothed  with  shame  and  sorrow,  we  should  think  of  the  shining  gar 
ments  ;  for  the  messengers  of  the  cross  were  apparelled  with  a  shin 
ing  glory. 

1  '  Apifj,f>s  6  xei/iwi',  dXXa  y\VKfo  6  7ra/od5ewos*  dXyetvrj  -5)  ftfyis,  dXX  i)8eia  y  a-rr6\av<Tis. 
fuicpbv  dvaf^eivu^ev  Kal  6  /(6X7ros  ^uas  6d\\f>et  TOV  Trar/ndpxou,'  &c.  —  Basil  ad  40  Martyr. 

2  'Pericula  non  respicit  martyr,  coronas  respicit.'  —  Basil,  ubi  supra. 

JAS.  I.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  81 

2.  The  truth  of  them.  It  is  not  only  a  *  crown  of  glory  '  that  you 
expect,  but  a  '  crown  of  righteousness/  2  Tim.  iv.  8,  that  is,  which 
the  righteous  God  will  surely  bestow  upon  you  ;  for  though  God 
maketh  the  promise  in  grace,  yet  it  being  once  made,  his  truth,  which 
is  often  called  his  righteousness  in  scripture,  obligeth  him  to  perform 
it.1  Well,  then,  consider  thus  :  I  have  the  promise  of  the  righteous 
God  to  assure  me,  and  shall  I  doubt  or  draw  back  ?  He  is  too  holy 
to  deceive — '  God  that .  cannot  lie,'  Titus  i.  2  ;  so  immutable  and 
faithful  that  he  cannot  repent  and  change  his  mind,  Num.  xxiii.  19  ; 
so  omnipotent  and  able  that  he  cannot  be  disappointed  and  hindered, 
Job  ix.  12  ;  so  gracious  that  he  will  not  forget :  '  Hath  he  said,  and 
shall  he  not  do  it  ?  Hath  he  spoken,  and  shall  he  not  make  it  good  ? ' 
Oh !  that  our  trust  were  as  sure  as  his  promises,  and  there  were  no 
more  doubt  to  be  made  of  our  interest  than  of  his  truth !  Every 
promise  is  built  upon  four  pillars :  God's  justice  or  holiness,  which 
will  not  suffer  him  to  deceive ;  his  grace  or  goodness,  which  will  not 
suffer  him  to  forget ;  his  truth,  which  will  not  suffer  him  to  change; 
his  power,  which  maketh  him  able  to  accomplish. 

Obs.  5.  Lastly,  That  no  enduring  is  acceptable  to  God  but  such  as 
doth  arise  from  love.  The  crown  which  God  hath  promised,  he  doth 
not  say,  '  to  them  that  suffer,'  but  '  to  them  that  love  him/  A  man 
may  suffer  for  Christ,  that  is,  in  his  cause,  without  any  love  to  him, 
but  it  is  nothing  worth :  1  Cor.  xiii.  3,  '  If  I  give  my  body  to  be 
burned,  and  have  not  charity,  it  profiteth  me  nothing/  Through 
natural  stoutness  and  stubbornness  men  may  be  constant  in  their  way, 
and,  as  I  said  before,  yield  a  stout  body  to  a  stubborn  mind  ;  and  yet, 
when  they  are  burning  in  the  fires,  their  souls  burn  with  no  zeal  or 
love  to  God's  glory.  There  are  many  who  would  die  for  Christ  if 
they  were  put  to  it,  yet  will  not  quit  a  lust  for  him.  Vicious  persons 
that  die  in  a  good  cause  are  but  like  a  dog's  head  cut  off  for  sacri 
fice.  Well,  then,  do  not  think  that  mere  suffering  will  excuse  a 
wicked  life.  It  is  observable  that  Christ  saith  last  of  all,  *  Blessed 
are  they  that  suffer  for  righteousness'  sake,'  Mat.  v.  10,  as  intimating 
that  a  martyr  must  have  all  the  preceding  graces ;  first,  '  Blessed 
are  the  poor  in  spirit ;  blessed  are  the  pure  in  heart ; '  then,  '  Blessed 
are  they  that  suffer/  First,  grace  is  required,  and  then  martyrdom. 
The  victory  is  less  over  outward  inconveniences  than  inward  lusts ; 
for  these,  being  more  rooted  in  our  nature,  are  more  hardly  overcome. 
Under  the  law  the  priests  were  to  search  the  beasts  brought  for  burnt- 
offerings,  whether  scabbed  or  mangy,  &c.  A  burnt-offering,  if 
scabby,  is  not  acceptable  to  God.  In  short,  that  love  that  keepeth 
the  commandments  is  best  able  to  make  us  suffer  for  them.  Philo 
sophy  may  teach  us  to  endure  hardships,  as  Calanus  in  Curtius 
willingly  offered  his  body  to  the  fires  ;  but  grace  only  can  teach  us 
to  overcome  lusts.  We  read  of  many  that,  out  of  greatness  or  sullen- 
ness  of  spirit,  could  offer  violence  to  nature,  but  were  at  a  loss  when 
they  came  to  deal  with  a  corruption  ;  so  easy  is  it  to  cut  off  a  member 
rather  than  'a  lust,  and  to  withstand  an  enemy  rather  than  a  tempta 
tion  1  Therefore  the  scriptures,  when  they  set  out  an  outward  enemy, 
though  never  so  fierce,  call  him  flesh,  '  with  them  is  an  arm  of  flesh  ; ' 

1  '  Promittendo  se  debitorem  fecit.' — Aug. 
VOL.  IV.  X 

32  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

but  when  they  speak  of  the  spiritual  combat,  they  make  it  a  higher 
work,  and  of  another  nature :  '  We  fight  not  against  flesh  and 
blood'/  &c.,  Eph.  vi.  12.  Learn  then  to  do  for  God,  that  you  may 
the  better  die  for  him  ;  for  a  wicked  man,  as  he  profaneth  his  actions, 
so  his  sufferings— his  blood  is  but  as  swine's  blood,  a  defilement  to 

the  altar. 

Other  notes  might  be  observed  out  of  this  verse,  but  they  may  be 
collected  either  out  of  the  exposition,  or  supplied  out  of  observations 
on  chap.  ii.  ver.  5,  where  suitable  matter  is  discussed. 

Ver.  13.  Let  no  man  say,  lohen  he  is  tempted,  I  am  tempted  of  God ; 
for  God  cannot  be  tempted  with  evil,  neither  tempteth  he  any  man. 

He  cometh  now  to  another  kind  of  temptations  ;  for  having  spoken 
of  outward  trials,  he  taketh  occasion  to  speak  of  these  inward  tempta 
tions,  that  thereby  he  might  remove  a  blasphemous  error  concerning 
the  cause  of  them.  It  is  clear  that  those  outward  trials  are  from  God, 
but  these  inward  trials,  or  temptations  to  sin,  are  altogether  incon 
sistent  with  the  purity  and  holiness  of  his  nature,  as  the  apostle  proveth 
in  this  and  the  following  verses. 

Let  no  man,  ivhen  he  is  tempted,  ///^Set?  ireipa^o^evos — that  is, 
tempted  to  sin,  for  in  this  sense  is  the  word  used  in  scripture ;  as 
SoKi/jid&v,  or  trial,  is  the  proper  word  for  the  other  temptation,  so 
Treipd&iv  is  the  proper  word  for  temptations  to  sin  ;  thus  the  devil  is 
called  o  ireipd&v,  the  tempter,  Mat.  iv.  3 ;  and  in  the  Lord's  Prayer 
we  pray  that  we  may  not  be  led  ei?  Treipaa-^ov,  '  into  temptation/ 
chiefly  intending  that  we  may  not  be  cast  upon  solicitations  to  evil ; 
so  here,  when  he  is  tempted,  that  is,  so  solicited  to  sin  that  he  is 
overcome  by  it. 

Say ;  that  is,  either  in  word  or  thought,  for  a  thought  is  verbum 
mentis,  the  saying  of  the  heart ;  and  some  that  dare  not  lisp  out  such 
a  blasphemy  certainly  dare  imagine  it ;  for  the  apostle  implies  that 
the  creature  is  apt  to  say,  to  have  some  excuse  or  other. 

/  am  tempted  of  God ;  that  is,  it  was  he  solicited,  or  enforced  me  to 
evil ;  or,  if  he  would  not  have  me  sin,  why  would  not  he  hinder  me  ? 

For  God  cannot  be  tempted  with  evil. — Here  is  the  reason,  drawn 
from  the  unchangeable  holiness  of  God :  he  cannot  any  way  be  seduced 
and  tempted  into  evil.  Some  read  it  actively,  he  is  not  the  tempter  of 
evil ;  but  this  would  confound  it  with  the  last  clause  ;  some,  as  Sal- 
meron,  out  of  Clemens  Komanus,1  render  the  sense  thus :  God  is  not 
the  tempter  of  evil  persons,  but  only  of  the  good,  by  afflictions ; 
but  that  is  a  nicety  which  will  not  hold  true  in  all  cases,  and  doth  not 
agree  with  the  original  phrase ;  for  it  is  not  TWV  Ka/ca)v,  as  referring  it 
to  evil  persons,  but  simply  without  an  article,  KCLKWV,  as  referring  it  to 
evil  things.  The  sum  is,  God  cannot,  by  any  external  applications,  or  ill 
motions  from  within,  be  drawn  aside  to  that  which  is  unjust. 

Neither  tempteth  he  any  man;  that  is,  doth  not  love  to  seduce 
others,  willing  that  men  should  be  conformed  to  the  holiness  of  his  own 
nature.  He  tempteth  not,  either  by  inward  solicitation  or  by  such  an 
inward  or  outward  dispensation  as  may  enforce  us  to  sin. 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.    From  that  let  no  man  say,  that  man  is  apt  to  say,  or 

1  ''A56/ct/xos  avrjp  ctTretpaaros  iraph  ry  0e<£.' — Clem.  Rom.  lib.  ii.  Const.,  cap.  8. 

JAS.  I.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  83 

to  transfer  the  guilt  of  his  own  miscarriages.  When  they  are  seduced 
by  their  own  folly,  they  would  fain  transact  the  guilt  and  blame  upon 
others.  Thus  Aaron  shifts  his  crime  upon  the  people,  upon  their 
solicitations,  Exod.  xxxii.  23,  24,  '  They  said,  Make  us  gods,  and  I 
cast  it  into  the  fire,  and  thereof  came  the  calf.'  Mark,  thereof  came, 
as  if  it  were  a  work  of  chance  rather  than  art.  So  Pilate,  upon  the 
Jews'  instigation,  Mat.  xxvii.  24,  '  Look  ye  to  it.'  So  ignorant  men, 
their  errors  upon  their  teachers ;  if  they  are  wrong,  they  have  been 
taught  so ;  and  therefore  Jeremiah  says,  Jer.  iv.  10,  '  Ah  !  Lord  God, 
surely  thou  hast  greatly  deceived  this  people  ; '  that  is,  0  Lord,  they 
will  say  thou  hast  deceived  them ;  it  was  thy  prophets  told  them  so. 
So  Saul,  1  Sam.  xv.  15,  '  The  people  spared  the  best  of  the  sheep  and 
of  the  oxen  ; '  and  ver.  24,  '  I  feared  the  people.'  It  was  out  of  fear 
of  others  that  entreated ;  the  people  would  have  it  so.  So  many,  if 
they  are  angry,  say  they  are  provoked ;  if  they  swear,  others  urged 
them  to  it ;  as  the  Shelomith's  son  blasphemed  in  strife,  Lev.  xxiv.  10. 
So  if  drawn  to  excess  of  drink,  or  abuse  of  the  creatures,  it  was  long 
of  others  that  enticed  them.  Well,  then  : — 

1.  Beware  of  these  vain  pretences.    Silence  and  owning  of  guilt  is  far 
more  becoming :  God  is  most  glorified  when  the  creatures  lay  aside  their 
shifts.     You  shall  see,  Lev.  xiii.  45,  '  The  leper  in  whom  the  plague  i? 
shall  have  his  clothes  rent  and  his  head  bare,  and  he  shall  put  a  covering 
upon  his  upper  lip,  and  he  shall  cry,  Unclean,  unclean  ; '  all  was  to  be 
naked  and  open  but  only  his  upper  lip  ;  he  was  not  to  open  his  mouth 
in  excuses.     It  is  best  to  have  nothing  to  say,  nothing  but  confession 
of  sin ;  leprosy  must  be  acknowledged.     The  covering  of  the  upper 
lip  among  the  Hebrews  was  the  sign  of  shameful  conviction. 

2.  Learn  that  all  these  excuses  are  vain  and  frivolous,  they  will  not 
hold  with  God.      Aaron  is  reproved,   notwithstanding  his  evasion. 
Pilate  could  not  wash  off  the  guilt  when  he  washed  his  hands.     He 
that  crucified  our  Saviour  crucified  himself  afterward.1     Ignorance  is 
not  excused  by  ill  teaching :  *  The  blind  lead  the  blind,'  and  not  one, 
but  '  both  fall  into  the  ditch,'  Mat.  xv.  14 — the  blind  guide  and  the 
blind  follower.     So  Ezek.  iii.  18,  '  The  man  shall  die  in  his  iniquity, 
but  his  soul  will  I  require  at  thy  hand.'     It  will  be  ill  for  the  teacher, 
and  ill  for  the  misled  soul  too.     So  Saul  is  rejected  from  being  king, 
for  obeying  the  voice  of  the  people  rather  than  the  Lord,  1  Sam.  xv. 
23.    Shelomith's  son  was  stoned,  though  he  blasphemed  in  spite,  Lev. 
xxiv.  14.     And  it  went  ill  with  Moses,  though  they  provoked  his 
spirit,  so  that  '  he  spake  unadvisedly  with  his  lips,'  Ps.  cvi.  33,  34. 
Certainly  it  is  best  when  we  have  nothing  to  say  but  only,  Unclean, 
unclean ! 

Obs.  2.  Creatures,  rather  than  not  transfer  their  guilt,  will  cast  it 
upon  God  himself.  They  blame  the  Lord  in  their  thoughts ;  it  is 
foolish  to  cast  it  altogether  upon  Satan — to  say,  I  was  tempted  of 
Satan.  Alas  !  if  there  were  no  Satan  to  tempt  we  should  tempt  our 
selves.  His  suggestions  and  temptations  would  not  work  were  there 
not  some  intervening  thought,  and  that  maketh  us  guilty.  Besides, 
some  sins  have  their  sole  rise  from  our  own  corruption,  as  the  im 
perfect  animals  are  sometimes  bred  ex  putri  materia,  only  out  of 

1  Euseb.  Eccles.  Hist.,  lib.  ii.  cap.  7. 

84  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

slimy  matter,  and  at  other  times  they  are  engendered  by  copulation. 
It  is  useless  to  cast  it  upon  others — I  was  tempted  of  others.  Actions 
cannot  he  accomplished  without  our  own  concurrence,  and  we  must 
bear  the  guilt.  But  it  is  blasphemous  to  cast  it  upon  God,  and  say, 
'  I  am  tempted  of  God;'  and  yet  we  are  apt  to  do  so, — partly  to  be 
clear  in  our  own  thoughts.  Men  would  do  anything  rather  than  think 
basely  of  themselves,  for  it  is  man's  disposition  to  be  '  right  in  his 
own  eyes/  Prov.  xvi.  2.  We  love  those  glasses  that  would  make  us 
show  fairest.  It  is  against  nature  for  a  man  willingly  to  profess  and 
own  his  own  shame :  Job.  xxxi.  33,  '  If  I  hid  my  sin  as  did  Adam,' 
i.e.,  more  liominum,  as  Adam  and  all  Adam's  children  do.  Men  would 
be  clear  and  better  than  they  are.  Partly  because  by  casting  it  upon 
God  the  soul  is  most  secure.  When  he  that  is  to  punish  sin  beareth 
the  guilt  of  it,  the  soul  is  relieved  from  much  horror  and  bondage ; 
therefore,  in  the  way  of  faith,  God's  transacting  our  sin  upon  Christ 
is  most  satisfying  to  the  spirit :  Isa.  liii.  6,  '  The  Lord  hath  laid  on 
him  the  iniquity  of  us  all.'  Now,  we  would  lay  it  upon  God  by  odious 
aspersions  of  his  power  and  providence ;  for  if  we  could  once  make 
God  a  sinner,  we  would  be  secure.  You  see  we  do  not  fear  men  that 
are  as  faulty  as  ourselves ;  they  need  pardon  as  well  as  we,  and  there 
fore  is  it  that  the  soul  doth  so  wickedly  design  to  bring  God  into  a 
partnership  and  fellowship  of  our  guilt.  Partly  through  a  wicked  de 
sire  that  is  in  men  to  blemish  the  being  of  God.  Man  naturally  hateth 
God ;  and  our  spite  is  shown  this  way,  by  polluting  and  profaning 
his  glory,  and  making  it  become  vile  in  our  thoughts ;  for  since  we 
cannot  raze  out  the  sense  of  the  deity,  wre  would  destroy  the  dread  and 
reverence  of  it.  It  is  a  saying  of  Plutarch,  Malo  de  me  did  nullum 
esse  Plutarchum  quam  malum  esse  Plutarclium,  de  Deo  male  sentire 
quam  Deum  esse  negare  pejus  duco.  We  cannot  deny  God,  and  there- 
lore  we  debase  him,  which  is  worst,  as  it  is  better  not  to  be  than  to 
be  wicked ;  we  think  him  '  as  one  of  us/  Ps.  1.  21  ;  and  the  apostle 
saith,  '  We  turn  his  glory  into  a  lie/  Rom.  i.  25.  Well,  then,  beware 
of  this  wickedness  of  turning  sin  upon  God.  The  more  natural  it  is  to 
us  the  more  should  we  take  heed  of  it.  We  charge  God  with  our 
evils  and  sins  divers  ways, — 

1.  When  we  blame  his  providence,  the  state  of  things,  the  times, 
the  persons  about  us,  the  circumstances  of  providence,  as  the  laying 
of  tempting  objects  in  our  way,  our  condition,  &c.,  as  if  God's  disposing 
of  our  interests  were  a  calling  us  to  sin :  thus  Adam,  Gen.  iii.  12,  '  The 
woman  which  thou  gavest  me,  she  gave  me,  and  I  did  eat.'  Mark,  it 
is  obliquely  reflected  upon  God,  '  The  woman  which  tliou  gavest  me.' 
So  many  will  plead  the  greatness  of  their  distractions  and  incum- 
brances.  God  hath  laid  so  many  miseries  and  discouragements  upon 
them,  and  cast  them  upon  such  hard  times,  that  they  are  forced  to 
such  shifts ;  whereas,  alas !  God  sendeth  us  miseries,  not  to  make  us 
worse,  but  to  make  us  better,  as  Paul  seemeth  to  argue  in  1  Cor.  x.  13, 
14:  if  ^  they  did  turn  to  idolatry,  the  fault  was  not  in  their  sufferings 
and  trials,  but  in  themselves.  Thus  you  make  God  to  tempt  you  to 
sin  when  you  transfer  it  upon  providence,  and  blame  your  condition 
rather  than  yourselves.  Providence  may  dispose  of  the  object,  but  it 
doth  not  impel  or  excite  the  lust ;  it  appointeth  the  condition,  but 

JAS.  I.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  85 

Satan  setteth  up  the  snare.  It  was  by  God's  providence  that  the 
wedge  of  gold  lay  in  Achan's  way,  that  Bathsheba  was  offered  naked 
to  David's  eye,  that  the  sensual  man  hath  abundance,  that  the  timo 
rous  is  surprised  with  persecution,  &c.  All  these  things  are  from  God, 
for  the  fault  lieth  not  here.  The  outward  estate,  or  the  creatures 
that  have  been  the  occasions  of  our  sinning,  cannot  be  blamed  :  as 
beauty  in  women,  pleasantness  in  wine.  These  are  good  creatures  ot 
God,  meant  for  a  remedy ;  we  turn  them  into  a  snare.  The  more  of 
God's  goodness  or  glory  is  seen  in  any  creature,  the  greater  check  it 
is  to  a  temptation,  for  so  far  it  is  a  memorial  of  God ;  and  therefore 
some  have  observed  that  desires  simply  unclean  are  most  usually 
stirred  up  towards  deformed  objects.  Beauty  in  itself  is  some  stricture 
and  resemblance  of  the  divine  majesty  and  glory,  and  therefore  cannot 
but  check  motions  altogether  brutish.  It  is  very  observable  that  of 
the  apostle  Peter :  2  Pet.  i.  4,  '  The  corruption  that  is  in  the  world 
through  lust.'  The  world  is  only  the  object ;  the  cause  is  lust.  The 
reason  why  men  are  covetous,  or  sensual,  or  effeminate,  is  not  in  gold, 
or  wine,  or  women,  but  in  men's  naughty  affections  and  dispositions. 
So  also  it  is  very  observable,  that  when  the  apostle  John  would  sum 
up  the  contents  of  that  world  which  is  opposite  to  the  love  of  God,  he 
doth  not  name  the  objects,  but  the  lusts  ;  the  fault  is  there.  He  doth 
not  say,  Whatsoever  is  in  the  world  is  pleasures,  or  honours,  or 
profits,  but '  the  lust  of  the  eyes,  the  lust  of  the  flesh,  and  the  pride 
of  life/  and  addeth,  '  These  are  not  of  the  Father,  but  of  the  world/ 
1  John  ii.  16  ;  that  is,  not  of  God,  as  riches,  and  honour,  and  other 
outward  things  are,  but  these  are  parts  of  that  world  that  man  hath 
made,  the  world  in  our  own  bowels,  as  the  poison  is  not  in  the  flower, 
but  in  the  spider's  nature. 

2.  By  ascribing  sin  to  the  defect  and  faint  operation  of  the  divine 
grace.     Men  will  say  they  could  do  no  otherwise  ;  they  had  no  more 
grace  given  them  by  God :   Prov.  xix.  3,  '  The  foolishness  of  man 
perverteth  his  ways,  and  his  heart  fretteth  against  the  Lord.'     They 
say  it  was  long  of  God  ;  he  did  not  give  more  grace.     They  '  corrupt 
themselves  in  what  they  know/  Jude  10,  and  then  complain,  God 
gave  no  power.     Men  naturally  look  upon  God  as  a  Pharaoh,  requiring 
brick  where  he  gave  no  straw.     The  servant  in  the  Gospel  would 
make  his  master  in  the  fault  why  he  did  not  improve  his  talent: 
Mat.  xxv.  24,  '  I  knew  thou  wert  an  hard  man,  reaping  where  thou 
hast  not  sown,  and  gathering  where  thou  hast  not  strewed,  and  there 
fore  I  went  and  hid  the  talent ; '  as  if  that  were  all  the  cause. 

3.  When  men  lay  all  their  miscarriages  upon  their  fate,  and  the 
unhappy  stars  that  shone  at  their  birth,  these  are  but  blind  flings  at 
God  himself,  veiled  under  reflections  upon  the  creature.     Alas !  '  who 
is  it  that  bringeth  out  Mazzaroth  in  his  season,  that  ordereth  the  stars 
in  their  course  ?  is  it  not  the  Lord  ? '     To  this  sort  you  may  refer 
them  that  storm  at  any  creatures,  because  they  dare  not  openly  and 
clearly  oppose  themselves  against  heaven ;  .as  Job  curseth  the  clay  of 
his  birth,  Job  iii.  3,  as  if  it  had  been  unlucky  to  him ;  and  others  curse 
some  lower  instruments. 

4.  When  men  are  angry  they  know  not  why.     They  are  loath  to 
spend  any  holy  indignation  upon  themselves;  therefore,  feeling  the 

86  AN  EXPOSITION.  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

stings  and  gripes  of  conscience,  they  fret  and  fume,  and  know  not 
why.  They  would  fain  break  out  against  God,  but  dare  not ;  as 
David  himself,  2  Sam.  vi.  8,  '  David  was  displeased  because  the  Lord 
had  made  a  breach  upon  Uzzah.'  He  was  angry,  but  could  not  tell 
with  whom  to  be  angry  ;  he  should  have  been  angry  with  his  own 
folly  and  ignorance.  Wicked  men  break  out  apparently :  Isa.  viii. 
21/22,  '  They  shall  fret  themselves,  and  curse  their  God,  and  their 
king,  and  look  upward ;  and  they  shall  look  to  the  earth,'  &c.  Sin 
proving  unhappy,  vexeth  the  soul ;  and  then  men  curse  and  rave,  and 
break  out  into  indecencies  of  passion  and  madness,  accusing  God, 
and  providence,  and  instruments,  and  any  but  themselves.  So.  Kev. 
xvi.  21,  'They  blasphemed  the  God  of  heaven,  because  of  their 
plagues;'  the  madness  of  their  rage  breaketh  out  into  open  blas 
phemy.  But  in  the  children  of  God  it  is  more  secretly  carried  ;  there 
is  a  storming  in  their  hearts,  but  they  dare  not  give  it  vent ;  as  in 
Jonah,  chap,  iv.,  he  was  vexed,  and  surcharged  with  passion,  but 
knew  not  upon  whom  to  disgorge  it. 

5.  Most  grossly,  when  you  think  he  useth  any  suggestion  to  the 
soul,  to  persuade  it  and  incline  it  to  evil.     Satan  may  come,  and,  by 
the  help  of  fancy  and  the  senses,  transmit  evil  counsel  to  the  soul. 
But  God  doth  not,  as  more  fully  hereafter :  Mat.  v.  37,  '  Whatsoever 
is  beyond  these  cometh  of  evil ; '  in  the  original  it  is  e'/c  Trovrjpov,  not 
only  of  the  evil  heart,  but  the  evil  serpent ;  from  the  devil,  and  our 
corruption,  if  it  be  beside  the  rule.     There  is  Satan's  counsel  in  all 
this,  not  the  Lord's. 

6.  When  you  have  an  ill  understanding  and  conceit  of  his  decrees, 
as  if  they  did  necessitate  you  to  sin.     Men  will  say,  Who  can  help  it  ? 
God  would  have  it  so, —  as  if  that  were  an  excuse  for  all.    Though  God 
hath  decreed  that  sin  shall  be,  yet  he  doth  neither  infuse  evil  nor 
enforce  you  to  evil.     God  doth  not  infuse  evil ;  that  which  draweth 
you  to  it  is  your  own  concupiscence,  as  in  the  next  verse.     He  doth 
not  give  you  an  evil  nature  or  evil  habits  ;  these  are  from  yourselves. 
He  doth  enforce  you,  neither  physically,  by  urging  and  inclining  the 
will  to  act,  nor  morally,  by  counselling  and  persuading,  or  commanding 
you  to  it.     God  leaveth  you  to  yourselves,  casteth  you  in  his  pro 
vidence,  and  in  pursuance  of  his  decrees,  upon  such  things  as  are  a 
snare  to  you ;   that  is  all  that  God  doth,  as  anon  will  more  fully 
appear.     I  only  now  take  notice  of  that  wickedness  which  is  in  our 
natures,  whereby  we  are  apt  to  blemish  God,  and  excuse  ourselves. 

06s.  3.  From  that  he  cannot  be  tempted  with  evil,  that  God  is 
so  immutably  good  and  holy  that  he  is  above  the  power  of  a  tempta 
tion.  Men  soon  warp  and  vary,  but  he  cannot  be  tempted.  There  is 
a  wicked  folly  in  man  which  maketh  us  measure  God  by  the  creature  ; 
and,  because  we  can  be  tempted,  think  God  can  be  tempted  also ;  as 
suppose,  enticed  to  give  way  to  our  sins.  Why  else  do  they  desire  him 
to  prosper  them  in  their  evil  projects,  to  further  unjust  gain,  or  un 
clean  intents  ? — as  the  whore,  Prov.  vii.  14,  had  her  vows  and  peace- 
offerings  to  prosper  in  her  wantonness.  And  generally,  we  deal  with 
God  as  if  he  could  be  tempted  and  wrought  to  a  compliance  with  our 
corrupt  ends,  as  Solomon  speaketh  of  sacrifice  offered  with  an  evil 
mind,  Prov.  xxi.  27 ;  that  is,  to  gain  the  favour  of  heaven  in  some 

JAS.  I.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  87 

evil  undertaking  and  design.  Thus  the  king  of  Moab  hoped  to  entice 
God  by  the  multitude  of  his  sacrifices,  seven  altars,  seven  oxen,  seven 
rams,  Num.  xxii. ,  and  the  prophet,  of  some  that  thought  to  draw  God 
into  a  liking  of  their  oppression:  Zech.  xi.  5,  'Blessed  be  God,  I  am 
rich.'  So  in  these  times  wicked  men  have  a  pretence  of  religion,  as  if 
they  would  allure  the  Lord  to  enter  into  their  secret,  and  come  under 
the  banner  of  their  faction  and  conspiracy.  Oh  !  what  base  thoughts 
have  carnal  men  of  God !  No  wonder  the  word  of  God  is  made  a 
nose  of  wax,  when  God  himself  is  made  an  idol  or  puppet,  that 
moveth  by  the  wire  of  every  carnal  worshipper!  Oh!  check  this 
blasphemy.  God  cannot  be  tempted  ;  he  is  immutably  just  and  holy : 
Ilab.  i.  13,  '  Thou  art  of  purer  eyes  than  to  behold  evil,  and  canst 
not  look  on  iniquity.'  Iniquity  shall  never  have  a  good  look  from 
him.  Oh  !  then,  how  should  we  tremble  that  are  easily  carried  aside 
with  temptation !  How  can  you  stand  before  the  God  that  cannot  be 
tempted  ? 

Uses  of  this  note  are  two : — 

1.  It  is  an  inducement  to  get  an  interest  in  God,  and  more  com 
munion  with  him  :  a  believer  is  '  made  partaker  of  the  divine  nature,' 
2  Peter  i.  4.     Now  the  more  of  the  divine  nature  in  you,  the  more  you 
are  able  to  stand  against  temptations.     We  are  easily  carried  aside, 
because  we  have  more  of  man  than  God  in  us.     We  are  so  mutable, 
that  if  all  memory  of  sin  and  Satan  were  abolished,  man  himself 
would  become  his  own  devil ;  but  God  is  at  the  same  stay.     Oh !  let 
us  covet  more  of  the  divine  nature,  that  when  the  tempter  cometh  he 
may  find  the  less  in  us.     We  do  in  nothing  so  much  resemble  God  as 
in  immutable  holiness. 

2.  You  may  make  use  of  it  to  the  purpose  in  hand.     When  natural 
thoughts  rise  in  us,  thoughts  against  the  purity  of  God,  say  thus : 
Surely  God  cannot  be  the  author  of  sin,  who  is  the  ultor  or  the  avenger 
of  it ;  he  is  at  the  same  pass  and  stay  of  holiness,  and  cannot  warp 
aside  to  evil.     Especially  make  use  of  it  when  anything  is  said  of  God 
in  scripture  which  doth  not  agree  with  that  standing  copy  of  his  holi 
ness,  the  righteous  law  which  he  hath  given  us.     Do  not  think  it  any 
variation  from  that  immutable  tenor  of  purity  and  justice  which  is  in 
his  nature,  for  *  he  cannot  be  tempted  ; '  as  when  he  bade  Abraham 
offer  his  son,  it  was  not  evil,  partly  because  God  may  require  the  life  of 
any  of  his  creatures  when  he  will ;  partly  because,  being  the  lawgiver, 
he  may  dispense  with  his  own  law :  and  a  peculiar  precept  is  not  in 
force  when  it  derogateth  from  a  general  command,  to  wit,  that  we 
must  do  whatsoever  God  requireth:  so   in  bidding  them  spoil  the 
Egyptians.     God  is  not  bound  to  our  rule  ;  the  moral  law  is  a  rule  to 
us,  not  to  himself,  &c.     In  all  such  cases  salve  the  glory  of  God,  for  he 
is  aTreipacrros  KCLK&V,  altogether  incapable  of  the  least  sin  or  evil. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  neither  tempteth  he  any  man,  that  the  Lord 
is  no  tempter  ;  the  author  of  all  good  cannot  be  the  author  of  sin. 
God  useth  many  a  moving  persuasion  to  draw  us  to  holiness,  not  a 
hint  to  encourage  us  to  sin ;  certainly  they  are  far  from  the  nature  of 
God  that  entice  others  to  wickedness,  for  he  tempteth  no  man — man 
tempteth  others  many  ways : 

1.  By  commands,  when  you  contribute  your  authority  to  the  counte- 

88  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

nancing  of  it.  It  is  the  character  of  Jeroboam  that  he  '  made  Israel 
to  sin : '  '  Jeroboam,  the  son  of  Nebat,  that  made  Israel  to  sin/  It  is 
again  and  again  repeated  ;  the  guilt  of  a  whole  nation  lieth  upon  his 
shoulders  ;  Israel  ruined  him,  and  he  ruined  Israel.  So  2  Chron.  xxxiii. 
9,  '  Manasseh  made  Judah  and  the  inhabitants  of  Jerusalem  to  err, 
and  do  worse  than  the  heathens/  Mark,  he  made  them  ;  their  sins  are 
charged  upon  your  score.  In  the  7th  of  the  Revelations,  where  the 
tribes  are  numbered,  Dan  is  altogether  left  out,  and  Ephraim  is  not 
mentioned.  Dan  was  the  first  leading  tribe  that  by  example  went  over 
to  idols  :  Judges  xviii.,  and  Ephraim  by  authority  :  so  some  give  the 

2.  By  their  solicitations  and  entreaties,  when  men  become  panders 
to  others'  lusts  :  Prov.  vii.  21,  '  With  much  fair  speech  she  caused  him 
to  yield,  with  the  flattering  of  her  lips  she  forced  him/     Mark,  she 
caused  him  to  yield,  and  then  forced  him  ;  first  he  began  to  incline, 
and  then  he  could  no  longer  resist.     When  such  Eves  lay  forth  their 
apples,  what  evil  cometh  by  it  ?     Solicitations  are  as  the  bellows  to 
blow  up  those  latent  sparkles  of  sin  which  are  hidden  in  our  natures 
into  a  flame. 

3.  Those  that  soothe  up  or  encourage  men  in  their  evil  ways,  calling 
evil  good  and  good  evil,  like  Ahab's  prophets.     Their  word  is,  '  Go  up 
and  prosper  ; '  they  cry,  Peace,  peace  !  to  a  soul  utterly  sunk  and  lost  in 
a  pit  of  perdition.     Oh  !   how  far  are  these  from  the  nature  of  God.     He 
tempteth  no  man  ;  but  these  are  devils  in  man's  shape  ;  their  work  is 
to  seduce  and  tempt — murderers  of  souls,  yea  (as  Epiphanius  calleth 
the  Novatians),  murderers  of  repentance.1     Dives  in  hell  had  more 
charity  ;  he  would  have  some  to  testify  to  his  brethren  *  lest  they  came 
into  that  place  of  torment,'   Luke  xvi.  28.     But  these  are  factors  for 
hell,  negotiate  for  Satan,  strengthen  the  hands  of  the  wicked,  and 
(which  God  taketh  worse)  discourage  and  set  back  those  that  were 
looking  towards  heaven.     So  the  apostle,  2  Peter  ii.  18,  they  'allure 
through  the  lusts  of  the  flesh,  through  much  wantonness,  those  that 
were  clean  escaped  from  them  that  live  in  error,    rot)?  OVTCDS  cnrofyv- 
yovTas,  really  or  verily  escaped,  that  is,  had  begun  to  profess  the  gospel ; 
or,  as  some  copies  have,  oXf/yw?  aTrocfrvyovTas,  having  a  little  escaped 
from  error ;  thence  the  vulgar  eos  qui  paululum  effugiunt,  with  which 
the  Syriac  and  Arabic  translations  agree  ; 2  and  so  it  showeth  how  ill 
God  taketh  it,  that  the  early  growth  and  budding  of  grace  should  be 
blasted,  and  as  soon  as  they  began  to  profess  any  change,  that  a  seducer 
should  set  them  back  again,  and  entangle  those  that  had  made  some 
escape,  and  were  in  a  fair  way  to  a  holy  life.     This  is  Satan's  dis 
position  outright :  the  dragon  watched  for  the  man-child  as  soon  as  he 
was  born,  Bev.  xii.  4,  and  these  make  advantage  of  those  early  ten 
dencies  and  dispositions  to  faith  which  are  in  poor  souls  ;  for  while  they 
are  deeply  affected  with  their  sins,  and  admiring  the  riches  and  grace 
of  Christ,  they  strike  in  with  some  erroneous  representations,  and,  under 
a  colour  of  liberty  and  gospel,  reduce  and  bring  them  back  to  their  old 

Use  2.  If  God  tempteth  no  man,  then  it  informeth  us  that  God  can- 

1  '  TOI)J  Novels  TTJS  /AeTavolas.' — Epiphan. 

2  So  see  Jerom.  lib.  iii.  contra  Jovin.  et  Aug.  de  Fide  et  Operibus,  cap.  25. 

JAS.  I.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  89 

not  be  the  author  of  sin.  I  shall  here  take  occasion  a  little  to  enlarge 
upon  that  point.  I  shall  first  clear  those  places  which  seem  to  imply 
it ;  then,  secondly,  show  you  what  is  the  efficiency  and  concurrence  of 
God  about  sin. 

I.  For  the  clearing  of  the  places  of  scripture.  They  are  of  divers 
ranks ;  there  are  some  places  that  seem  to  say  that  God  doth  tempt,  as 
Gen.  xxii.  1,  '  God  tempted  Abraham  ; '  so  in  many  other  places  ;  but 
that  was  but  a  trial  of  his  faith,  not  a  solicitation  to  sin.  There  is  a 
tempting  by  way  of  trial,  and  a  tempting  by  way  of  seclucement.1 
God  trieth  their  obedience,  but  doth  not  stir  them  up  to  sin.  But  you 
will  say,  there  are  other  places  which  seem  to  hint  that  God  doth 
solicit,  incite,  and  stir  up  to  sin  ;  as  1  Chron.  v.  26,  '  God  stirred  up 
the  spirit  of  Pul,  the  king  of  Assyria,  to  carry  away  the  Jews  captive ; ' 
but  that  was  not  evil,  to  punish  an  hypocritical  nation,  but  just  and 
holy,  a  part  of  his  corrective  discipline  ;  and  God's  stirring  implieth 
nothing  but  the  designation  of  his  providence,  and  the  ordering  of  that 
rage  and  fury  that  in  them  was  stirred  up  by  ambition  and  other  evil 
causes,  as  a  correction  to  his  people.  So  also  2  Sani.  xxiv.  1,  ;  The 
anger  of  the  Lord  was  kindled  against  Israel,  and  he  moved  David  to 
number  the  people.'  But  compare  it  with  1  Chron.  xxi.  1,  and  you 
shall  see  it  is  said,  '  Satan  stood  up  and  provoked  David  to  number  the 
people  ;'  and  so  some  explain  one  place  by  the  other,  and  refer  that  he 
to  Satan,  '  The  anger  of  the  Lord  was  kindled  against  Israel,  and  he/ 
(that  is,  the  devil)  ;  or  it  may  be  referred  to  the  last  antecedent,  the 
Lord,  whose  anger  is  said  to  be  stirred  up  ;  he  moved,  that  is  permitted 
Satan  to  move,  by  withdrawing  himself  from  David.  God  moved 
permissive,  Satan  efficaciter :  God  suffered,  Satan  tempted  ;  for  God 
is  often  in  scripture  said  to  do  that  which  he  doth  but  permit  to 
be  done ;  as  to  *  Awaken  the  sword  against  the  man  his  fellow/  Zech. 
xiii.  7,  that  is,  to  stir  up  all  that  rage  which  was  exercised  upon 
Christ ;  and  the  reason  of  such  expressions  is  because  of  the  activeness 
of  his  providence  in  and  about  sin,  for  he  doth  not  barely  permit  it, 
but  dispose  circumstances  and  occasions,  and  limit  and  overrule  it,  so 
as  it  may  be  for  good.  Thus  also  Ps.  cv.  25,  'He  turned  their  heart 
to  hate  his  people,  and  to  deal  subtilely  with  his  servants/  The  mean 
ing  is,  God  only  offereth  the  occasion  by  doing  good  to  his  people.  The 
Egyptians  pursued  them  out  of  envy  and  jealousy.  God,  I  say,  only 
gave  the  occasion,  did  not  restrain  their  malice;  therefore  he  is  said  to 
do  it.  There  are  other  places  which  imply  that  God  hardeneth, 
blindeth  sinners,  delivereth  them  over  to  a  reprobate  sense,  serideth 
them  a  strong  delusion  ;  asKom.  i.  2 ;  Thes.  ii.  11,  and  in  many  other 
places.  I  answer  in  general  to  them  all : — God,  by  doing  these  things, 
doth  not  tempt  the  good  that  they  may  become  evil,  but  only  most 
justly  punisheth  the  evil  with  evil  :  this  hardening,  blinding,  is  not  a 
withdrawing  a  good  quality  from  them,  but  a  punishment  according 
to  their  wickedness.  Particularly  God  is  said  to  harden,  as  he  doth 
not  soften  ;  he  doth  not  infuse  evil,  but  only  withhold  grace  ;  hardness 
of  heart  is  man's  sin,  but  hardening,  God's  judgment.  So  again,  God 
is  said  to  make  blind  as  he  doth  not  enlighten,  as  freezing  and  dark 
ness  follow  upon  the  absence  of  the  sun :  he  doth  not  infuse  evil,  nor 

1  '  Diabolus  tentat ;  Deus  probat.' — Tertul.  de  Orat. 

90  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

take  away  any  good  thing  from  them,  but  only  refuseth  to  give  them 
more  grace,  or  to  confirm  them  in  the  good  they  have.  So  also  God 
is  said  to  give  up  to  lusts  when  he  doth  not  restrain  us,  but  leaveth  us 
to  our  own  sway  and  the  temptations  of  Satan.  So  God  is  said  to  send 
a  strong  lie  when  he  suffereth  us  to  be  carried  away  with  it.  God  in 
deed  foreseeth  and  knoweth  how  we  will  behave  ourselves  upon  these 
temptations,  but  the  foresight  of  a  thing  doth  not  cause  it. 

Some  urge  that  1  Kings  xxii.  22,  '  Thou  shalt  be  a  lying  spirit ;  go 
forth  and  do  so,  and  thou  shalt  prevail  with  him.'  But  that  is  only  a 
parabolical  scheme  of  providence,  and  implieth  not  a  charge  and  com 
mission  so  much  as  a  permission. 

Others  urge  those  places  which  do  directly  seem  to  refer  sin  to  God  ; 
as  Gen.  xlv.  5,  8,  'Be  not  grieved  nor  offended,  it  was  not  you  that 
sent  me  hither  ;  it  was  not  you,  but  God.'  The  very  sending,  which  was 
a  sinful  act,  is  taken  off  from  man  and  appropriated  to  God.  So  1 
Kings  xii.  15,  '  The  king  hearkened  not  unto  the  people,  for  the  cause 
was  from  the  Lord ; '  that  rebellion  there  is  said  to  be  from  the  Lord. 
I  answer — These  things  are  said  to  be  of  the  Lord  because  he  would  dis 
pose  of  them  to  his  own  glory,  and  work  out  his  own  designs  and 
decrees.  There  are  some  other  places  urged,  as  where  God  is  said  to 
deliver  Christ,  to  bruise  and  afflict  him,  which  was  an  evil  act,  &c. ; 
but  these  only  imply  a  providential  assistance  arid  co-operation,  by 
which  God  concurreth  to  every  action  of  the  creatures,  as  shall  be 
cleared  elsewhere. 

II.  I  am  to  state  the  efficiency  and  concurrence  of  God  about  sin. 
All  that  God  doth  in  it  may  be  given  you  in  these  propositions : — 

1.  It  is  certain  that  without  God  sin  would  never  be ;  without  his 
prohibition  an  action  would  riot  be  sinful.    The  apostle  saith,  '  Where 
is  no  law,  there  is  no  transgression  ; '  but  I  mean  chiefly  without  his  per 
mission  and  fore-knowledge,  yea,  and  I  may  add,  without  his  will  and 
concurrence,  without  which  nothing  can  happen  and  fall  out ;  it  can 
not  be  beside  the  will  of  God,  for  then  he  were  not  omniscient ;  or 
against  his  will,  for  then  he  were  not  omnipotent.     There  is  no  action 
of  ours  but  needeth  the  continued  concurrence  and  supportation  of 
his  providence  ;  and  if  he  did  not  uphold  us  in  being  and  working,  we 
could  do  nothing. 

2.  Yet  God  can  by  no  means  be  looked  upon  as  the  direct  author  of 
it,  or  the  proper  cause  of  that  obliquity  that  is  in  the  actions  of  the 
creatures ;  for  his  providence  is  conversant  about  sin  without  sin,  as  a 
sunbeam  lighteth  upon  a  dunghill  without  being  stained  by  it.     This 
is  best  cleared  by  a  collection  and  summary  of  all  those  actions  where 
by,  from  first  to  last,  providence  is  concerned  in  man's  sin  ;  which  are 
briefly  these : — 

[1.]  Fore-knowledge  and  pre-ordination.  God  intended  and  ap 
pointed  that  it  should  be.  Many  that  grant  prescience  deny  pre 
ordination,  lest  they  should  make  God  the  author  of  sin ;  but  these 
fear  where  no  fear  is.  The  scripture  speaketh  roundly,  ascribing 
both  to  God :  *  Him  being  delivered  by  the  fore-knowledge  and  deter 
minate  counsel  of  God/  Acts  ii.  23.  Mark,  Peter  saith,  not  only 
rfj  Trpoyvcocrei,,  '  by  the  fore  -knowledge/  but  wpia^evrj  /SoiAf},  '  deter 
minate  counsel/  which  implieth  a  positive  decree.  Now  that  cannot 

JAS.  I.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  91 

infer  any  guilt  or  evil  in  God,  for  God  appointed  it,  as  he  meant  to 
bring  good  out  of  it.  Wicked  men  have  quite  contrary  ends.  Thus 
Joseph  speaketh  to  his  brethren,  when  they  were  afraid  of  his  revenge, 
Gen  1.  19,  '  Am  I  in  the  place  of  God? '  that  is,  was  it  my  design  to 
bring  these  things  to  pass,  or  God's  decree?  and  who  am  I,  that  I 
should  resist  the  will  of  God?  And  then  again,  ver.  20,  '  But  as  for 
you,  ye  thought  evil ;  but  God  meant  it  for  good,  to  bring  it  to  pass, 
as  it  is  this  day,  to  save  much  people  alive  ; '  that  is,  God  decreed  it 
otherwise  than  you  designed  it :  your  aim  was  wholly  evil,  his  good. 

[2.]  There  is  a  permission  of  it.  God's  decrees  imply  that  sin  shall 
be,  but  they  do  not  impel  or  enforce ;  for  he  leaveth  us  to  the  liberty 
of  our  own  hearts,  and  our  own  free  choice  and  work ;  he  is  resolved 
not  to  hinder  us :  Acts  xiv.  16,  '  He  suffered  them  to  walk  in  their  own 
ways.'  God  was  not  bound  to  hinder  it,  therefore  permission  in  God  can 
not  be  faulty;  '  Who  hath  given  him  first  ?  '  Were  grace  a  debt,  it  were 
injustice  to  withhold  it ;  and  did  God  act  out  of  a  servile  necessity, 
the  creatures  might  reject  the  blame  of  their  miscarriages  upon  the 
faintriess  of  his  operation :  but  God  being  free,  neither  obliged  by 
necessity  of  nature,  nor  any  external  rule  and  law,  nor  by  any  fore 
going  merit  of  the  creatures,  may  do  with  his  own  as  it  pleaseth  him ; 
and  it  is  a  shameless  impudence  in  man  to  blame  God  because  he  is 
free,  when  himself  cannot  endure  to  be  bound.1 

[3.]  There  is  a  concurrence  to  the  action,  though  not  to  the  sinful- 
ness  of  it.  It  is  said,  Acts  xvii.  28,  '  In  him  we  live,  move,  and  have 
our  being.'  When  God  made  the  creatures,  he  did  not  make  them 
independent  and  absolute  :  we  had  not  only  being  from  him,  but  still 
we  have  it  in  him ;  we  are  in  him,  we  live  in  him,  and  we  move  in 
him,  KivovpeOa — we  are  moved  or  acted  in  him.  All  created  images 
and  appearances  are  but  like  the  impress  of  a  seal  upon  the  waters  : 
take  away  the  seal,  and  the  form  vanisheth ;  subtract  the  influence  of 
providence,  and  presently  all  creatures  return  to  their  first  nothing ; 
therefore  to  every  action  there  needeth  the  support  and  concurrence 
of  God  :  so  that  the  bare  action  or  motion  is  good,  and  from  God ; 
but  the  de-ordination,  and  obliquity  of  it,  is  from  man ;  it  cometh 
from  an  evil  will,  and  therein  is  discerned  the  free  work  of  the  crea 

[4.]  There  is  a  desertion  of  a  sinner,  and  leaving  of  him  to  himself. 
God  may  suspend,  yea,  and  withdraw,  grace  out  of  mere  sovereignty ; 
that  is,  because  he  will :  but  he  never  doth  it  but  either  out  of  justice 
or  wisdom ;  out  of  wisdom,  for  the  trial  of  his  children,  as,  in  the  busi 
ness  of  the  ambassadors,  '  God  left  Hezekiah,  that  he  might  know 
what  was  in  his  heart/  2  Chron.  xxxii.  31.  So  sometimes  in  justice, 
to  punish  the  wicked ;  as  Ps.  Ixxxi.  12,  '  I  gave  them  up  to  their  own 
hearts'  lusts,  and  they  walked  in  their  own  counsels.'  When  grace  is 
withdrawn,  which  should  moderate  and  govern  the  affections,  man  is 
left  to  the  sway  and  impetuous  violence  of  his  own  lusts.  Now  God 

14  Homo  Deum  non  nisi  ex  sensu  suo  metitur,  nee  de  auctoritate  ejus  cogitat,  quin 
earn  circumcidat,  nee  de  libertate  quin  ei  fibulam  impositam  velit ;  Pelagiani  omnes 
nascimur,  immo  cum  supercilio  pharisaico.  HJc  character  vix  delebilis  est^:  ^Homo  sibi 
obnoxium  Deum  existimat,  non  se  Deo,'  &c. — Spanhem.  de  Gratia  Universali,  in  Prcef.  ad 

92  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  13. 

cannot  be  blamed  in  all  this,  partly  because  he  is  not  bound  to  give  or 
continue  grace:  partly  because,  when  common  light  and  restraints 
are  violated,  he  seemeth  to  be  bound  rather  to  withdraw  what  is 
already  given ;  and  when  men  put  finger  in  the  eye  of  nature,  God 
may  put  it  out,  that  they  that  will  not,  may  not  jsee ;  and  if  the  hedge 
be  continually  broken,  it  is  but  justice  to  pluck  it  up ;  and  then  if  the 
vineyard  be  eaten  down,  who  can  be  blamed  ?  Isa.  v.  5 :  partly  be 
cause  the  subsequent  disorders  do  arise  from  man's  own  counsel  and 
free  choice ;  therefore  upon  this  tradition  of  God's  it  is  said,  '  They 
walked  in  their  own  counsels  ; '  that  is,  according  to  the  free  motion 
arid  inclination  of  their  own  spirits. 

[5.]  There  is  a  concession  and  giving  leave  to  wicked  instruments,  to 
stir  them  up  to  evil ;  as  carnal  company,  evil  acquaintance,  false  pro 
phets  :  1  Kings  xxii.  22,  '  I  will  go  forth,  and  be  a  lying  spirit  in  the 
mouth  of  Ahab's  prophets  ;  and  God  said,  Go  forth.'  In  that  scheme 
and  draught  of  providence,  the  evil  spirit  is  brought  in,  asking  leave 
for  wicked  instruments.  So  Job  xii.  16,  it  is  said,  4  The  deceiver  and 
deceived  are  his  ; '  he  is  sovereign  Lord  over  all  the  instruments  of 
deceit,  so  that  they  are  restrained  within  bounds  and  limits,  that  they 
can  do  nothing  further  than  he  will  give  leave. 

[6.]  There  is  a  presenting  of  occasions,  and  disposing  of  them  to  such 
providences  as  become  a  snare  ;  but  this  can  reflect  no  dishonour 
upon  God,  because  the  providences  and  objects  are  good  in  them 
selves,  and  in  their  own  nature  motives  to  duty,  rather  than  tempta 
tions  to  sin.  Wicked  men  abuse  the  best  things — the  word  irritateth 
their  corruption  ;  sin  getteth  strength  by  the  commandment  :  Isa.  vi. 
9,  *  Go,  make  the  heart  of  this  people  fat/  that  is,  dull  and  heavy  ;  as 
the  ass,  which  of  all  creatures  hath  the  fattest  heart,  is  the  dullest.1 
The  prophet  is  bidden  to  make  their  hearts  fat ;  the  preaching  of  the 
word,  which  should  instruct  and  quicken,  maketh  them  the  more 
gross  and  heavy.  So  also  they  abuse  mercies  and  miseries  :  Ps.  Ixix. 
22,  '  Let  their  table  become  a  snare,  and  their  welfare  a  trap/  A 
sinner,  like  a  spider,  sucketh  poison  out  of  everything ;  or,  like  the 
sea,  turneth  the  sweet  influences  of  the  heavens,  the  fresh  supply  of 
the  rivers,  into  salt  water ;  so  their  table,  their  welfare,  all  becomes  a 
curse  and  a  snare  to  them.  In  this  sense  it  is  said,  Jer.  vi.  21,  '  I 
will  lay  stumbling-blocks  before  this  people ; '  that  is,  such  occasions 
and  providences  as  are  a  means  to  ruin  them :  in  all  which  God  most 
righteously  promoteth  the  glory  of  his  justice. 

[7.]  A  judicial  tradition  and  delivering  them  up  to  the  power  of 
Satan  and  their  own  vile  affections ;  as  Kom.  i.  26.  '  God  gave  them 
up  to  vile  affections  ; '  this  is,  when  God  suffereth  those  /colvas  eVi/o/a?, 
those  common  notices  to  be  quenched,  and  all  manner  of  restraints  to 
be  removed :  the  truth  is,  we  rather  give  up  ourselves ;  only,  because 
God  serveth  his  ends  of  it,  it  is  said,  he  giveth. 

[8.]  A  limitation  of  sin.  As  God  appointeth  the  measures  of  grace 
according  to  his  own  good  pleasure,  so  also  the  stint  of  sin  ;  it  runneth 
out  so  far  as  may  be  for  his  glory :  Ps.  Ixxvi.  10,  '  The  wrath  of  man 
shall  praise  thee,  the  remainder  thereof  shalt  thou  restrain/  So  far 
as  it  may  make  for  God's  glory,  God  letteth  the  fierceness  of  man  to 

1  Plutarch. 

JAS.  1.  14.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  93 

have  its  scope;  but  when  it  is  come  to  the  stint  and  bounds  that  pro 
vidence  hath  set  to  it,  it  is  quenched  in  an  instant. 

[9.]  There  is  a  disposal  and  turning  of  it  to  the  uses  of  his  glory : 
Bom.  iii.  7,  '  Our  unrighteousness  commendeth  his  righteousness,  and 
the  truth  of  God  aboundeth  to  his  glory  through  our  lie.'  God  is  so 
good,  that  he  would  not  suffer  evil  if  he  could  not  bring  good  out  of 
it.  In  regard  of  the  issue  and  event  of  it,  sin  may  be  termed  (as 
Gregory  said  of  Adam's  fall)  felix  culpa,  a  happy  fall,  because  it 
maketh  way  for  the  glory  of  God.  It  is  good  to  note  how  many  attri 
butes  are  advanced  by  sin — mercy  in  pardoning,  justice  in  punishing, 
wisdom  in  ordering,  power  in  overruling  it ;  every  way  doth  our  good 
God  serve  himself  of  the  evils  of  men.  The  picture  of  providence 
would  not  be  half  so  fair  were  it  not  for  these  black  lines  and  darker 
shadows.  Well,  then,  let  me  never  blame  that  God  for  permitting  sin, 
who  is  willing  to  discover  so  much  mercy  in  the  remitting  of  it. 

Ver.  14.  But  every  man  is  tempted  ivhen  he  is  drawn  away  of  his 
own  lust,  and  enticed. 

Here  he  cometh  to  show  the  true  and  proper  cause  of  sin.  having 
removed  the  false  pretended  caujso,  namely,  God's  providence  and  de 
cree.  The  true  procreating  cause  of  sin  is  in  every  man's  soul ;  it  is 
his  lust ;  he  carrieth.  that  which  is  fons  et  fames,  the  food  and  fuel 
of  it  in  his  own  bosom.  Now  this  lust  worketh  two  ways,  by  force 
and  fraud,  drawing  away  and  enticing,  as  in  the  explication  will  more 
fully  appear. 

But  every  man  is  tempted. — He  speaketh  so  universally,  because 
none  is  free  but  Christ. 

When  ~by  his  own  lust. — He  saith  his  own,  because  though  we  have 
all  a  corrupt  nature  in  common,  yet  every  one  hath  a  particular  several 
inclination  to  this  or  that  sin  rooted  in  his  nature.  Or  rather  own,  to 
exclude  foreign  force,  and  all  violence  from  without :  there  is  not  a 
greater  enemy  than  our  own  nature. 

His  own  lust. — That  I  may  show  you  what  is  meant  by  lust,  I  must 
premise  something : — (1.)  The  soul  of  man  is  chiefly  and  mainly  made 
up  of  desires  ;  like  a  sponge,  it  is  always  thirsting,  and  sucking  of 
something  to  fill  itself.  All  its  actings,  even  the  first  actings  of  the 
understanding,  come  out  of  some  will  and  some  desire ;  as  the  apostle 
speaketh  of  '  the  wills  of  the  mind,'  Eph.  ii.  3,  a  place  I  shall  touch  upon 
again  by  and  by.  (2.)  At  least  this  will  be  granted,  that  the  bent  of 
the  soul,  the  most  vigorous,  commanding,  swaying  faculty  of  the  soul, 
is  desire  ;  that  SVVCLIJLLS  eTriOvfjurfTiKr]  is,  I  say,  the  most  vigorous  bent  of 
the  soul.  (3.)  Since  the  fall,  man  rather  consulteth  with  his  desires 
than  with  anything  else,  and  there  all  action  and  pursuit  beginneth.  So 
that  this  faculty  is  eminently  corrupted,  and  corrupteth  and  swayeth  all 
the  rest;  and  therefore  gross  lusts,  the  lower  and  baser  desires,  are  called, 
*  the  law  of  the  members,'  Kom.  vii.  23  ;  desires  or  lusts  giving  law 
to  the  whole  soul.  Upon  these  reasons  I  suppose  it  is  that  all  sin  is 
expressed  by  lust,  which,  if  taken  in  a  proper  and  restrained  sense, 
would  not  reach  the  obliquities  of  the  whole  nature  of  man,  but  only 
of  one  faculty ;  but  because  there  seemeth  to  be  in  the  creature  a 
secret  will  and  desire,  by  which  every  act  is  drawn  out,  and  desire  is 
the  most  vigorous  faculty,  bending  and  engaging  the  soul  to  action, 

94  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  14. 

the  Spirit  of  God  chooseth  to  express  sin  by  lust,  and  such  words  as 
are  most  proper  to  the  desires  of  the  creatures.  It  is  true,  that  in  the 
Old  Testament  I  find  it  expressed  by  a  word  proper  to  the  under 
standing,  by  '  inventions/  or  '  imaginations/  or  '  counsels/  whence 
those  phrases,  '  walking  according  to  their  own  imaginations/  and 
'  walking  in  their  own  counsels/  But  the  New  Testament  delighteth 
rather  in  the  other  expressions  of  '  concupiscence  '  and  '  lust/  words 
proper  to  the  desires  ;  the  reason  of  which  difference  I  conceive  to  be, 
partly  the  manner  of  the  Hebrews,  who  frequently  use  words  of  the 
understanding  to  note  suitable  affections  ;  partly  the  state  of  the  world, 
who  at  first  were  brutish  in  their  conceits,  and  prone  to  idols,  and 
therefore  the  Old  Testament  runneth  in  that  strain,  '  imaginations/ 
*  counsels/  &c.  ;  and  at  length  were  brutish  in  their  desires,  and  more 
prone  to  gross  sins  ;  and  therefore  in  the  New,  it  is  '  lusts/  '  concupis 
cence/  &c.  However,  this  1  observe,  that  in  the  Old  Testament  there 
is  some  word  belonging  to  the  will  and  desires  adjoined  to  those 
words  of  the  understanding,  as  the  '  imaginations  of  their  own  hearts/ 
'  the  counsels  of  their  own  hearts  /  that  is,  such  imaginations  as  were 
stirred  up  and  provoked  by  their  own  hearts  and  desires.  All  this  is 
premised  to  show  you  why  the  scripture  chooseth  to  express  sin  by 
lust  and  concupiscence. 

Now,  lust  may  be  considered  two  ways  : — (1.)  As  a  power  ;   (2.)  As 
an  act. 

1.  As  a  power,  and  so  it  noteth  that  habitual,  primitive,  and  radical 
indisposition  to  good,  and  a  disposition  to  evil,  that  is  in  all  the  facul 
ties — the  whole  dunghill  of  corruption,  which  reeketh  sometimes  in  the 
understanding  by  evil  thoughts,   sometimes  in  the  will  by  lusts  and 
corrupt  desires,  and  is  the  mother  out  of  whose  womb  all  sin  cometh  ; 
and  as  it  is  called  lust  or  concupiscence,  so  it  is  called  flesli,  the  oppo 
site  contrary  principle  to  spirit :  Gal.  v.  17,  '  The  flesh  lusteth  against 
the  spirit  •/  there  it  is  called  flesh,  and  its  radical  act  lusting. 

2.  Look  upon  it  as  an  act,  and  actual  lust  or  concupiscence,  and  it 
is  nothing  else  but  the  risings  and  first  motions  of  this  fleshly  nature 
that  is  in  us.     These  lustings  are  of  two  sorts — those  of  the  lower  and 
those  of  the  upper  soul.     The  apostle  calleth  them,  Eph.  ii.  3,  '  the 
wills  of  the  flesh,  and  of  the  mind/ 

_  [1.]  The  wills  of  the  flesh  are  those  lower  and  more  brutish  appe 
tites  which  are  the  rise  of  lust,  wantonness,  drunkenness,  gluttony, 
called  by  way  of  emphasis,  l  the  lusts  of  the  flesh:'  1  John  ii.  16, 
'  Whatever  is  in  the  world  is  the  lusts  of  the  flesh,  the  lusts  of  the  eyes, 
and  the  pride  of  life.'  By  the  lusts  of  the  flesh  are  meant  the  neigh- 
ings  of  the  soul  after  outward  pleasures,  and  all  manner  of  sensual  and 
carnal  delights.  Now  these,  when  they  are  improved  into  gross  and 
irregular  actions,  stink  in  the  nostrils  of  nature.  In  Aristotle1  they 
are  called  eiriOv^iai  6r)pia>$eis,  brutish  and  belluine,  not  only  because  we 
have  them  in  common  with  the  beasts,  but  because  they  degenerate 
into  a  brutish  excess.  Thus  you  see  what  lusts  of  the  flesh  are.  I 
confess  they  are  sometimes  taken  more  largely  for  any  risings  of 
corrupt  nature,  it  being  most  natural  to  us  to  be  enslaved  by  sensual 
and  fleshly  objects  ;  the  part  is  put  for  the  whole. 

1  Arist.  Ethic.,  lib.  vii.  cap.  6. 

JAS.  I.  14.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  95 

[2.]  The  wills  of  the  mind  are  the  first  risings  of  the  corruption 
that  is  in  the  upper  soul,  as  fleshly  reasonings,  thoughts,  and  desires, 
covetousness,  ambition,  pride,  envy,  malice,  &c.  These  are  rooted  in 
the  corrupt  risings  or  stirrings  of  the  mind,  will,  &c.  These  things  I 
thought  good  to  hint,  to  show  you  what  the  scripture  intendeth  by 
lust,  the  vicious  inclinations  of  our  own  spirits,  chiefly  those  impetus 
primo  primi,  the  first  risings  of  original  sin. 

He  is  drawn  away  and  enticed. — There  is  some  variety  among  inter 
preters  in  opening  these  two  words.  Some  conceive  that  in  these  two 
words  the  apostle  givetli  out  two  causes  of  sin,  one  internal,  which  is 
lust,  as  if  that  were  hinted  in  the  former  word  :  '  drawn  away  by  his 
lust ;'  and  the  other  external,  to  wit,  the  pleasure  that  adhereth  to  the 
object,  which  is  as  the  bait  to  entice  the  soul,  for  the  word  signifieth 
enticed  as  with  a  bait ;  and  (as  Plato  saith)  rjftovrj  8e\€ap  KCLKWV, 
pleasure  is  the  bait  of  sin.  Thus  Piscator  and  our  translators  seem 
to  favour  it,  in  putting  the  words  thus :  '  When  he  is  drawn  by  his 
own  lust,  and  enticed ;'  as  if  they  would  intimate  to  us  this  sense, 
drawn  away  by  his  own  lust,  and  enticed  by  the  object ;  whereas,  the 
posture  of  th<3  words  in  the  original  referreth  both  to  lust ;  thus, 
'  When  he  is  drawn  away  and  enticed  by  his  lust.'  Others  make 
these  words  to  hint  several  degrees  in  the  admission  of  sin.  Thus, 
first  drawn  away  from  God,  then  enticed  by  sin ;  then,  in  the  next 
verse,  '  sin  conceiveth,'  then  '  bringeth  forth,'  &c.  Others,  as  Pareus, 
Grotius,  &c.,  make  these  to  be  the  two  parts  of  sin,  and  by  drawing 
away,  say  they,  is  meant  the  departure  from  the  true  good,  and  by 
enticed,  the  cleaving  to  evil.  For  look,  as  in  grace  there  is  something 
privative  and  something  positive,  a  departure  from  evil  and  a  cleaving 
to  good  so,  on  the  contrary,  there  is  in  sin  a  withdrawing  from  that 
which  is  good,  and  an  ensnaring  by  that  which  is  evil.  I  cannot 
altogether  disallow  this  sense,  though  I  rather  incline  to  think  that 
neither  the  object  nor  the  parts  of  evil  are  here  hinted,  but  only  the 
several  ways  which  lust  taketh  to  undo  us ;  partly  by  force,  and  so 
that  word  cometh  in,  e^eTuro/Aei'o?,  he  is  '  drawn  aside,'  or  haled  with 
the  rage  and  impetuous  violence  of  his  desires ;  partly  by  blandishment 
and  allurements ;  and  so  the  other  word  is  used,  SeXea^oyLtez/o?,  '  he 
is  enticed,'  and  beguiled  with  the  promise  and  appearance  of  pleasure 
and  satisfaction  to  the  soul. 

From  this  verse  observe : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  cause  of  evil  is  in  a  man's  self,  in  his  own  lusts, 
77  18  la  eTTLOvpia,  the  Eve  in  our  own  bosoms.  Corrupt  nature  is  not 
capable  of  an  excuse.  Sin  knoweth  no  mother  but  your  own  hearts. 
Every  man's  heart  may  say  to  him,  as  the  heart  of  Apollodorus  in  the 
kettle,  1eyo>  aol  TOVTCW  air  la — it  is  I  have  been  the  cause  of  this. 
Other  things  may  concur,  but  the  root  of  all  is  in  yourselves.  A  man 
is  never  truly  humbled  till  he  '  smite  upon  his  own  thigh,'  and  doth 
express  most  indignation  against  himself.  Do  not  say  it  was  God. 
He  gave  a  pure  soul,  only  it  met  with  viciously  disposed  matter. 
It  is  not  the  light,  but  the  putrid  matter  that  made  the  torch  stink, 
though,  it  is  true,  it  did  not  stink  till  it  was  lighted.  You  cannot 

1  Plut.  de  Sera  Num.  Vindict. 


altogether  blame  the  devil :  '  Suggestion  can  do  nothing  without 
lust/1  I  remember  Nazianzen  saith,  TO  irvp  Trap  TI^V,  rjSe  <£Xof  rov 
TTvevfjuaTos—the  fire  is  in  our  wood,  though  it  be  the  devil's  flame.  You 
cannot  blame  the  world  ;  there  are  allurements  abroad,  but  it  is  your 
fault  to  swallow  the  bait.  If  you  would  have  resisted  embraces,  as 
Tamar  did  Amnon's,  the  world  could  not  force  you.  Do  not  cry  out 
of  examples  ;  there  is  somewhat  in  thee  that  made  thee  close  with  the 
evil  before  thee.  Examples  provoke  abhor r en cy  from  the  sin,  if  there 
be  nothing  in  the  man  to  suit  with  it.  Lot  was  the  more  righteous  for 
living  in  Sodom,  and  Anach arsis  the  more  temperate  for  living  in 
Scythia ;  ungodly  examples  are  permitted  to  increase  detestation,  not 
to  encourage  imitation.  Do  not  cry  out  of  occasions.  David  saw 
Bathsheba  naked ;  but  he  saith,  '  I  have  sinned  and  done  this  evil,' 
Ps.  li.  4.  Do  not  cast  all  the  blame  upon  the  iniquity  of  the  times ; 
good  men  are  best  in  worst  times,  most  glorious  when  the  generation 
is  most  crooked,  Phil.  ii.  15  ;  most  careful  of  duty  when  the  age  is 
most  dissolute,  '  redeeming  the  time,  for  the  days  are  evil,'  Eph.  v. 
16  ;  like  fire  that  scorcheth  most  in  the  sharpest  frost,  or  stars  that 
shine  brightest  in  the  darkest  nights.  Do  not  blame  the  pleasantness 
of  the  creatures.  You  may  as  well  say  you  will  rebel  against  the 
prince  because  he  hath  bestowed  power  upon  you,  and  by  his  bounty 
you  are  able  to  make  war  against  him.  It  is  true,  there  is  much  in 
these  things  ;  but  there  is  more  in  your  hearts.  It  is  your  venomous 
nature  that  turneth  all  to  poison. 

Obs.  2.  That,  above  all  things,  a  man  should  look  to  his  desires. 
All  sin  is  called  eTuOvpia,  lust  or  desire.  God  calleth  for  the  heart : 
'  My  son,  give  me  thy  heart;'  which  is  the  seat  of  desires.  The 
children  of  God,  when  they  plead  their  inriocency,  urge  their  desires, 
they  fail  in  duty  ;  but  their  '  desires  are  to  the  remembrance  of  his 
name/  Neh.  i.  11 ;  Isa.  xxvi.  8.  The  first  thing  by  which  sin  discovereth 
itself  is  by  lust  or  desire.  All  actions  have  their  rise  from  some  inclina 
tion  arid  tendency  of  the  desire  towards  the  object.  Before  there  is  any 
thought  or  consultation  in  the  soul,  there  is  6'/oe£t9,  a  general  tendency  or 
bent  in  the  soul.  Well,  then,  look  to  your  lusts  or  desires  ;  the  whole 
man  is  swayed  by  them :  men  are  worldly  or  heavenly  as  their  de 
sires  are  ;  appetite  followetli  life  ;  the  spirit  hath  its  lustings  as  well 
as  the  flesh.  See  how  it  is  with  you. 

Obs.  3.  The  way  that  lust  taketh  to  ensnare  the  soul  is  by  force 
and  flattery,  either  *  drawn  away '  or  'enticed/ 

First,  By  violence,  e^eX/co/uew?,  drawn  away,  haled  with  it.  One 
way  of  knowing  desires  to  be  irregular  is,  if  they  are  violent  and  over- 
pleasing  to  the  flesh.  When  affections  are  impetuous,  you  have  just 
cause  to  suspect  them,  not  to  satisfy  them.  David  would  not  touch 
the  waters  of  Bethlehem  when  he  longed  for  them,  2  Sam.  xxiii.  17. 
Rage  of  desire  can  never  be  lawful.  Greediness  is  a  note  of  unclean- 
ness,  Eph.  iv.  19.  When  the  heart  boileth  or  panteth,  it  is  not  love, 
but  lust.  When  you  find  any  such  force  upon  your  spirits  towards 
carnal  objects,  if  you  would  be  innocent,  complain  and  cry  out  as  the 
ravished  virgin  under  the  law  ;  if  she  cried  out  she  was  guiltless.  It 

1  'Diabolidecipientiscalliditas,  ethominis  consentientis  voluntas.' — Aug.  dePeccat.  Oriy. 

lib.  ii.  cap.  37. 

JAS.  I.  14.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  97 

is  a  sign  that  sin  hath  not  gained  your  consent,  but  committeth  a 
rape  upon  your  souls.  When  you  cry  out  to  God,  Bom.  vii.  24,  '  O 
wretched  man  that  I  am,  who  shall  deliver  me  ?  '  you  may  discern  this 
force  upon  your  souls. 

1.  When  your  desires  will  not  endure  consultation,  or  the  consider 
ation  of  reason,  but  you  are  carried  on  by  a  brutish  rage  ;  as  Jer.  v. 
8,  *  They  were  as  fed  horses ;  every  one  neighed  after  his  neighbour's 
wife.'     They  had  no  more  command  of  themselves  than  a  fed  horse. 
So  Jer.  viii.  6,  '  Every  one  turneth  into  his  course,  as  the  horse  into 
the  battle/      The  rage  of  the  horse  is  stirred  up  by  a  warlike  noise, 
and  then  they  confront  danger,  and  press  on  upon  the  pikes  and  the 
heat  of  the  battle.    So  they  go  on  with  an  unbridled  license  against 
all  reason  and  restraints,  without  any  counsel  and  recollection.     Your 
lusts  will  not  allow  you  the  pause  of  reason  and  discourse. 

2.  When  they  grow  more  outrageous  by  opposition,  and  that  little 
check  that  you  give  to  them  is  like  the  sprinkling  of  water  upon 
the  coals,  the  fire  burnetli  the  more  fiercely.     This  is  that  which  the 
apostle   calleth  TraOos  eiriOv^ia^,  '  the  passionateness  of  lust.'     We 
translate  it  a  little  too  flatly,  '  the  lust  of  concupiscence,'  1  Thes.  iv. 
5.     It  noteth  a  raging  earnestness.     This  violence  is  most  discerned 
in  the  irregular  motions  of  the  sensual  appetite,  which  are  most  sen 
sible  because  they  disturb  reason,  vex  the  soul,  oppress  the  body. 
But  it  is  also  in  other  sins.     The  apostle  speaketh  of  it  elsewhere : 
Kom.  i.  27,  '  They  burned  in  their  lust  one  towards  another/     It  is 
when  reason  is  so  disturbed  and  oppressed,  that  there  can  be  no  resist 
ance  ;  yea,  grace  itself  is  overborne. 

3.  When  they  urge  and  vex  the  soul  till  fulfilled,  which  is  often  ex 
pressed  in  scripture  by  a  languor  and  sickness.     Now  this  is  such 
an  height  and  excess  of  affection  as  is  only  due  to  objects  that  are 
most  excellent  and  spiritual ;  otherwise  it  is  a  note  of  the  power  of 
lust.     To  be  sick  for  Christ  is  but  a  duty,  Cant.  ii.  5  ;  so  worthy  an 
object  will  warrant  the  highest  affection.     But  to  be  sick  for  any  out 
ward  and  carnal  object  noteth  the  irnpetuousness  and  violence  of  sin 
in  the  soul.     Thus  Amnon  was  sick  for  Tamar,  2  Sam.  xiii.  2 ;  that 
was  a  sickness  to  death,  the  sickness  of  lust  and  uncleanness.     Ahab 
was  sick  of  covetousness,  1  Kings  xxi.  4  ;  and  Hainan  for  honour, 
Esth.  v.     All  violent  affections  urge  the  soul,  and  make  it  impatient ; 
and  because  affections  are  the  nails  and  pins  that  tie  body  and  soul  to 
gether,  leave  a  faintness  and  weakness  in  the  body. 

This  violence  of  lust  may  inform  us, — 

1.  Why  wicked  men  are  so  mad  upon  sin,  and  give  themselves 
over  to   it  to  their  own  disadvantage  :  '  They  draw   iniquity  with 
cart  ropes,'  Isa.  v.  18.     As  beasts  that  are  under  the  yoke  put  out  all 
their  strength  to  draw  the  load  that  is  behind  them,  so  these  draw 
on  wickedness  to  their  disadvantage,  commit  it  though  it  be  difficult 
and  inconvenient.      So  it  is  said,  Jer.  ix.  5,  that  they  '  weary  them 
selves  to  commit  iniquity/   What  is  the  reason  of  all  this  ?     There  is 
a  violence  in  sin  which  they  cannot  withstand. 

2.  Why  the  children  of  God  cannot  do  as  they  would — withstand  a 
temptation  so  resolutely,  perform  duties  so  acceptably.     Lusts  may  be 
strong  upon  them  also.    It  is  observable  that  James  saith,  '  Every  man 

VOL.   IV.  G 

98  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  14. 

is  tempted,'  taking  in  the  godly  too.  A  wicked  man  doth  nothing  but 
sin — his  works  are  merely  evil ;  but  a  godly  man's  are  not  purely 
good :  Kom.  vii.  19,  '  The  good  that  I  would  I  do  not  do  ;  but  the  evil 
that  I  would  not,  that  I  do/  Though  they  do  not  resolve  and  harden 
their  faces  in  a  way  of  sin,  yet  they  may  be  discouraged  in  a  way  of 
grace.  So  Gal.  v.  17,  'Ye  cannot  do  the  things  that  ye  would.'  Their 
resolutions  are  broken  by  this  violence  and  potent  opposition. 

Secondly,  Observe,  the  next  way  of  lust  is  by  flattery,  SeXeafoyaez'o?, 
enticed.  It  cometh  lapped  up  in  the  bait  of  pleasure,  and  that  mightily 
prevaileth  with  men :  Titus  iii.  3,  '  Serving  divers  lusts  and  pleasures/ 
That  is  one  of  the  impediments  of  conversion — lust  promiseth  delight 
and  pleasure  ;  so  Job  xx.  12, '  Wickedness  is  sweet  in  his  mouth,  and  he 
hicleth  it  under  his  tongue,'  It  is  an  allusion  to  children,  that  hide  a 
sweet  morsel  under  their  tongue,  lest  they  should  let  it  go  too  soon. 
Neither  is  this  only  meant  of  sensual  wickedness,  such  as  is  conversant 
about  meats,  drinks,  and  carnal  comforts ;  but  spiritual,  as  envy, 
malice,  griping  plots  to  undo  and  oppress  others :  Prov.  ii.  14,  c  They 
rejoice  to  do  evil,  and  delight  in  the  frowardness  of  the  wicked/  Ee- 
venge  is  sweet,  oppression  is  sweet,  to  a  carnal  heart ;  so  Prov.  x.  23, 
'  It  is  a  sport  to  a  fool  to  do  mischief/  They  are  enticed  with  a  kind 
of  pleasure  of  that  which  is  mischievous  to  another.  Well,  then : — 

1.  Learn  to  suspect  things  that  are  too  delightful.      Carnal  objects 
tickle  much,  and  beget  an  evil  delight,  and  so  fasten  upon  the  soul. 
It  is  time  to  '  put  a  knife  to  the  throat '  when  you  begin  to  be  tickled 
with  the  sweets  of  the  world.     Your  foot  is  in  the  snare  when  the 
world  cometh  in  upon  you  with  too  much  delight.     That  which  you 
should  look  after  in  the  creatures  is  their  usefulness,  not  their  plea 
santness — that  is  the  bait  of  lust.     The  philosopher  could  say,  that 
natural  desires  are  properly  Trpb?  TO.  dvayfcala,  to  what  is  necessary.1 
Solomon   saitli,  Prov.  xxiii.  31,  '  Look  not  upon  the  wine  when  it 
is  red,  when  it  giveth  its  colour  in  the  cup,  when  it  moveth  itself 
right/     You  need  not  create  allurements  to  your  fancy,  and  by  the 
eye  invite  the  taste.     There  are  stories  of  heathens  that  would  not 
look  upon  excellent  beauties  lest  they  should  be  ensnared.     Pleasures 
are  but  enticements,  baits  that  have  hooks  under  them.     The  harlot's 
lips  drop  honey  in  the  greeting,  and  wormwood  in  the  parting,  Prov. 
vii. ;  like  John's  book,  honey  in  the  mouth,  and  wormwood  in  the 
bowels.     God  hath  made  man  of  such  a  nature  that  all  carnal  delights 
leave  impressions  of  sorrow  at  their  departure. 

2.  Learn  what  need  there  is  of  great  care.     Pleasure  is  one  of  the 
baits  of  lust.     The  truth  is,  all  sins  are  rooted  in  love  of  pleasure. 
Therefore   be  watchful.     Noonday  devils  are  most  dangerous,  and 
such  things  do   us   most   mischief  as    betray    us  with  smiles   and 
kisses.   Heathens  were  out  that  advised  to  pleasures,  that  by  experience 
we  might  be  weaned  from  them;  as  Tully2  saith  of  youth,  voluptates 
experiendo  contemnat—ky  use  of  pleasures  let  us  learn  to  disdain  them, 
as  the  desires  are  deadened  and  flattened  to  an  accustomed  object.   But, 
alas !  this  is  the  bait  of  lust  rather  than  the  cure.     Poor  souls !  they 
did  not  know  a  more  excellent  way.     It  is  true,  some  curiosity  is 

1  Arist.  Eth.,  lib.  vii.  cap  vi. 

2  M.  T.  Cicero  in  Orat.  pro  Rege  Deiot, 

JAS.  1.  15.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  99 

satisfied  by  experience :  but,  however,  the  spirit  groweth  more  sot 
tish  and  sensual.  Wicked  men,  when  once  they  are  taken  in  that 
snare,  are  in  a  most  sad  condition,  and  think  that  they  can  never  have 
enough  of  sensual  pleasures  ;  all  delight  seemeth  to  them  too  short ; 
as  one  wished  for  a  crane's  neck,  that  he  might  have  the  longer  relish 
of  meats  and  drinks.  And  Tacitus  speaketh  of  another  glutton  that, 
though  he  could  satisfy  his  stomach,  yet  not  his  fancy  or  lust ;  quod 
edere  non  potuit,  oculo  devoravit—  his  womb  was  sooner  filled  than  his 

Ver.  15.  Then,  when  lust  hath  conceived,  it  bringeth  forth  sin;  and 
sin,  when  it  is  finished,  bringeth  forth  death. 

Then,  when  lust,  eira  Se. — After  this  he  goeth  on  in  describing  the 
progress  of  sin  :  after  that  lust  had  by  violence  withdrawn,  and  by 
delight  ensnared,  the  soul,  then  sin  is  conceived ;  and  after  conception, 
there  is  a  bringing  forth  ;  and  after  the  birth,  death. 

Hath  conceived;  that  is,  as  soon  as  sin  beginneth  to  form  motions 
and  impulses  into  desires,  and  to  ripen  things  into  a  consent ;  for  sin, 
or  corrupt  nature,  having  inclined  the  soul  unto  a  carnal  object  by 
carnal  apprehensions,  laboureth  to  fix  the  soul  in  an  evil  desire.  Now 
the  titillation  or  delight  which  ariseth  from  such  carnal  thoughts  and 
apprehensions  is  called  the  conception  of  sin. 

It  bringeth  forth ;  that  is,  perfecteth  sin,  and  bringeth  it  to  effect 
within  us,  by  a  full  consent  and  decree  in  the  will ;  and  without  us, 
by  an  actual  execution.  The  one  is  the  forming  and  cherishing  in  the 
womb  after  conception  ;  the  other,  as  the  birth  and  production. 

Sin ;  that  is,  actual  sin ;  for  the  Papists  go  beside  the  scope  when 
they  infer  hence  that  lust  without  consent  is  not  truly  sin.  Our 
Saviour  saith  plainly,  that  the  first  titillations  are  sinful :  Mat.  v.  28, 
'  Whoever  looketh  upon  a  woman  to  lust  after  her,  hath  committed 
adultery  with  her  already  in  his  heart/  Though  there  be  but  such 
an  imperfect  consent  as  is  occasioned  by  a  glancing  thought,  it  is 
adultery.  But  you  will  say,  How  is  this  place  to  be  reconciled  with 
that  of  Paul,  Kom.  vii.  8,  where  he  saith,  '  Sin  wrought  in  him  all 
manner  of  lust ; '  and  here  it  is  said,  '  Lust  bringeth  forth  sin/  I 
answer — By  sin  Paul  understandeth  that  which  James  calleth  here  lust, 
that  is,  evil  nature,  or  the  wicked  bent  of  the  spirit ;  and  by  lust,  the 
actual  excitation  of  evil  nature :  but  by  sin  James  understandeth  the 
actual  formation  and  accomplishment  of  those  imperfect  desires  that 
are  in  the  soul. 

And  sin,  when  it  is  finished  ;  that  is,  actually  accomplished,  and  by 
frequent  acts  strengthened,  and  settled  into  a  habit.  But  why  doth 
the  apostle  say,  '  When  it  is  finished '  ?  Are  all  the  rest  venial — all 
corrupt  motions  till  sin  be  drawn  either  to  a  full  consent,  or  an  actual 
accomplishment,  or  a  perfect  habit.  I  answer — (1.)  The  apostle  doth 
not  distinguish  between  sin  and  sin,  but  speaketh  of  the  entire  course 
and  method  of  the  same  sin,  of  the  whole  flux  and  order,  and  so  rather 
showeth  what  death  and  hell  followeth,  than  how  it  is  deserved.  Every 
sin  is  mortal  in  its  own  nature,  and  bindeth  over  the  sinner  to^death 
and  punishment ;  but  usually  men  consummate  and  perfect  sin  ere 
it  lighteth  upon  them.  (2.)  Death  may  be  applied  as  the  common 
fruit  to  every  degree  in  this  series,  to  the  conception  as  well  as  the 

100  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  15. 

production,  and  to  the  production  as  well  as  the  consummation  of 
it.  The  grandfather  and  great-grandfather  have  an  interest  in  the 
child,  as  well  as  the  immediate  parent ;  and  death  is  a  brat  that 
may  be  laid,  not  only  at  sin's  door,  but  lust's.  (3.)  It  is  good  to 
note  that  James  speaketh  here  according  to  the  appearance  of  things 
to  men.  When  lust  bringeth  forth,  and  the  birth  and  conceptions  of 
the  soul  are  perfected  into  a  scandalous  gross  sin,  men  are  sensible  of 
the  danger  and  merit  of  it. 

Brmgeth  forth ;  that  is,  bindeth  the  soul  over  to  it ;  for  in  this  suc 
cession  there  is  a  difference  :  lust  is  the  mother  of  sin,  but  sin  is  the 
merit  of  death;  and  so  Cajetan  glosseth  well,  general  meritorie,  it 
bringeth  forth,  as  the  work  yieldeth  the  wages. 

Death.  It  is  but  a  modest  word  for  damnation  ;  the  first  and  second 
death  are  both  implied :  for  as  the  apostle  showeth  the  supreme  cause 
of  sin,  which  is  lust ;  so  the  last  and  utmost  result  of  it,  which  is  death  ; 
not  only  that  which  is  temporal,  for  then  the  series  would  not  be 
perfect,  but  that  other  death,  which  we  are  always  dying,  and  is  called 
death,  because  life  is  neither  desired,  nor  can  it  properly  be  said  to  be 
enjoyed.  Vivere  nolunt,  mori  nesciunt — they  would  not  live,  and 
cannot  die. 

The  notes  are  these: — 

Obs.  1.  That  sin  encroacheth  upon  the  spirit  by  degrees ;  the 
apostle  goeth  on  with  the  pedigree  of  it.  Lust  begetteth  strong  and 
vigorous  motions,  or  pleasing  and  delightful  thoughts,  which  draw 
the  mind  to  a  full  and  clear  consent ;  and  then  sin  is  hatched,  and  then 
disclosed,  and  then  strengthened,  and  then  the  person  is  destroyed. 
To  open  the  process  or  successive  inclination  of  the  soul  to  sin,  it  will 
not  be  amiss  to  give  the  whole  traverse  of  any  practical  matter  in  the 
soul.  There  is  first  o/oef  t?,  which  is  nothing  but  the  irritation  of  the 
object,  provoking  the  soul  to  look  after  it;  then  there  is  OP/JLTJ,  a 
motion  of  the  sensitive  appetite,  or  lower  soul,  which,  receiving  things 
by  the  fancy,  representeth  them  as  a  sensual  good ;  and  so  a  man 
inclineth  to  them,  according  as  they  are  more  or  less  pleasant  to  the 
senses ;  and  then  the  understanding  cometh  to  apprehend  them,  and  the 
will  inclineth,  at  least  so  far  as  to  move  the  understanding  to  look 
more  after  them,  and  to  advise  about  some  likely  means  to  accomplish 
and  effect  them,  which  is  called  /3ov\7jcr^,  consultation ;  and  when  the 
understanding  hath  consulted  upon  the  motion  of  the  will,  there 
followeth  POV\T),  a  decree  of  the  will  about  it,  and  tlien  aipeai,?,  the 
actual  choice  of  the  thing,  and  then  ^ov\^^a,  a  perfect  desire,  and  then 
action.  And  so  sin  is  represented  by  the  fancy  to  the  appetite  ;  and 
then  fancy,  being  a  friend,  blindeth  the  understanding,  and  then  the 
soul  beginneth  to  be  engaged  in  the  pursuit  of  it.  If  this  course  and 
method  be  a  little  too  large  for  your  thoughts,  see  it  contracted  in 
this  passage  of  our  apostle.  There  is  concupiscence,  or  corrupt 
nature,  then  lust,  or  some  inclinations  of  the  soul  to  close  with  sin, 
then  delight,  then  full  consent,  and  then  action,  and  then  death. 
David  observeth  somewhat  a  like  progress :  Ps.  i.  1,  '  Blessed  is  the 
man  that  walketh  not  in  the  counsel  of  the  ungodly,  nor  standeth  in 
the  way  of  sinners,  nor  sitteth  in  the  seat  of  the  scornful.'  Sin  is  never 
at  a  stay :  first,  ungodly,  then  sinners,  then  scorners ;  first,  counsels, 

JAS.  I.  15.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  101 

then  way,  then  seat ;  and  again,  first,  ioalkt  then  stand,  then  sit.  You 
see  distinctly  there  three  different  terms  for  the  persons,  the  objects, 
the  actions :  first,  men  like  wickedness,  then  they  tcalk  in  it,  then  are 
habituated :  first,  men  are  ivithdrawn  into  a  way  of  sin,  then  confirmed, 
then  profess  it.  To  do  anything  that  the  Lord  hateth,  is  to  '  walk  in 
the  counsels  of  the  ungodly ; '  to  go  on  with  delight,  is  to  '  stand  in  the 
way  of  sinners ; '  to  harden  our  hearts  against  checks  of  conscience 
and  reproofs,  is  to  commence  into  the  highest  degree,  and  to  '  sit/  as 
it  is  there  expressed,  *  in  the  seat  of  scorners ; '  or,  as  it  is  in  the 
Septuagint,  rwv  Xoipwv,  to  affect  the  honour  of  the  chair  of  pestilence. 
Thus  you  see  men  go  on  from  assent  to  delight,  from  delight  to 

Use  1.  Oh  that  we  were  wise,  then,  to  rise  against  sin  betimes! 
That  we  would  '  take  the  little  foxes,'  Cant.  ii.  15 ;  even  the  first 
appearances  of  corruption  !  That  we  would  '  dash  Babylon's  brats 
against  the  stone ! '  Ps.  cxxxvii.  Hugo's  gloss  is  pious,  though  not  so 
suitable  to  the  scope  of  that  place  :  sit  nihil  in  te  Bdbylonicum — the 
least  of  Babylon  must  be  checked;  not  only  the  grown  men,  but  dash 
the  little  ones  against  the  stone.  A  Christian's  life  should  be  spent  in 
watching  lust.  The  debates  of  the  soul  are  quick,  and  soon  ended, 
and,  without  the  mercy  of  God,  that  may  be  done  in  little  more  than 
an  instant  that  may  undo  us  for  ever.  It  is  dangerous  to  '  give  place 
to  Satan/  Eph.  iv.  27.  The  devil  will  draw  us  from  motions  to 
action,  and  from  thence  to  reiteration,  till  our  hearts  be  habituated 
and  hardened  within  us:  Eccles.  x.  13,  '  The  beginning  of  a  foolish 
man's  speech  is  foolishness,  but  the  latter  end  is  foolish  madness/ 
From  folly  they  go  on  to  downright  passion.  Small  breaches  in  a 
sea-bank  occasion  the  ruin  of  the  whole,  if  not  timely  repaired.  Sin 
gaineth  upon  us  by  insensible  degrees,  and  those  that  are  once  in 
Satan's  snare  are  soon  taken  by  him  at  his  will  and  pleasure. 

Use  2.  It  reproveth  them  that  boldly  adventure  upon  a  sin  because 
of  the  smallness  of  it ;  besides,  the  offence  done  to  God,  in  standing 
with  him  for  a  trifle,  as  the  '  selling  of  the  righteous '  is  aggravated  in 
the  prophet  by  the  little  advantage,  '  for  a  pair  of  shoes/  Consider 
the  danger  to  yourselves.  Great  faults  do  not  only  ruin  the  soul,  but 
lesser  ;  dallying  with  temptations  is  of  a  sad  consequence.  Caesar  was 
killed  with  bodkins.  Look,  as  it  is  murder  to  stifle  an  infant  in  the 
womb,  so  it  is  spiritual  murder  to  suppress  and  choke  the  conceptions 
of  the  Spirit ; x  but,  on  the  other  side,  it  is  but  a  necessary  rigour  to 
dash  Babylon's  brats,  and  to  suppress  sin  in  the  conception  and 
growth,  ere  it  be  ripened  and  perfected.  We  are  so  far  to  abhor  sin 
as  to  beware  of  the  remote  tendencies ;  yea,  to  avoid  '  the  occasions  of 
it/  1  Thes.  v.  22.  If  it  be  but  male  coloratum,  as  Bernard  glosseth, 
of  an  ill  look  and  complexion,  it  is  good  to  stand  at  a  distance. 

Obs.  2.  Lust  is  fully  conceived  and  formed  in  the  soul,  when  the 
will  is  drawn  to  consent ;  the  decree  in  the  will  is  the  ground  of  all 
practice.  Look,  as  duties  come  off  kindly  when  once  there  is  a  decree 
in  the  will :  Ps.  xxxii.  5,  *  I  said  I  will  confess  my  transgressions  unto 

1  '  Homicidii  festinatio  est  prohibere  nasci ;  etiam  conceptum  utero  dum  adhuc  sanguis 
in  hominem  delibatur  dissolvere  non  licet,  nee  refert  natura  natam  quis  eripiat  animam  an 
nascentem  disturbet.' — Tertul.  in  Apol. 

102  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  15. 

the  Lord.'  David  had  gotten  his  will  to  consent  to  acts  of  repentance, 
and  then  he  could  no  longer  keep  silence  :  so,  on  the  other  side,  all 
acts  of  sin  are  founded  in  the  fixed  choice  and  resolution  of  the  will. 
'  I  will  pursue,  I  will  overtake,'  said  mad  Pharaoh,  Exod.  xv.  9  ;  and 
that  engaged  him  in  acts  of  violence.  Now  this  decree  of  the  will  is 
most  dangerous  in  the  general  choice  of  our  way  and  course ;  for  as 
religion  lieth  in  the  settled  resolution  of  the  soul,  when  we  make  it 
our  work  and  business,  as  Barnabas  exhorted  the  new  converts,  '  that 
with  purpose  of  heart  they  would  cleave  unto  the  Lord,'  Acts  xi.  23,  TTJ 
TrpoOeo-i,  TT}?  KapSias,  that  they  would  resolvedly  decree  for  God  in  the 
will;  so,  when  the  apostle  speaketh  of  his  holy  manner  of  life,  he 
calleth  it  irpoQeo-w,  his  purpose,  2  Tim.  iii.  10.  So  also  the  state  of 
sin  lieth  in  a  worldly  or  carnal  choice ;  as  the  apostle  saith,  1  Tim. 
vi.  9,  '  He  that  will  be  rich  ; '  that  is,  that  hath  decreed  and  fixed  a 
resolution  in  his  soul  to  make  it  his  only  study  and  care  to  grow  rich 
and  get  an  estate,  he  is  altogether  carnal.  A  child  of  God  may  be 
overborne,  but  usually  he  doth  not  fix  his  will :  Eom.  vii.  16,  '  I  do 
that  which  I  would  not ; '  or,  if  his  will  be  set,  yet  there  is  not  a  full 
consent,  for  there  will  be  continual  dislikes  from  the  new  nature.  I 
confess  sometimes,  as  there  is  too  much  of  deliberation  and  counsel  in 
the  sins  of  God's  children  (as  you  know  David's  sin  was  a  continued 
series  and  plot),  so  too  much  of  resolution  and  the  will;  but  this  is 
in  acts  of  sin,  not  in  the  course  and  state ;  their  manner  of  life  and 
purpose  is  godly.  Well,  then,  if  lust  hath  insinuated  into  your 
thoughts,  labour  to  keep  it  from  a  decree,  and  gaining  the  consent  of 
the  will.  Sins  are  the  more  heinous  as  they  are  the  more  resolved 
and  voluntary. 

Obs.  3.  What  is  conceived  in  the  heart  is  usually  brought  forth  in 
the  life  and  conversation.  '  Lust,  when  it  hath  conceived,  bringeth 
forth  sin/  That  is  the  reason  why  the  apostle  Peter  directeth  a 
Christian  to  spend  the  first  care  about  the  heart :  1  Peter  ii.  11,  12, 
'  Abstain  from  fleshly  lusts/  and  then  '  have  your  conversations  honest/ 
As  long  as  there  is  lust  in  the  heart,  there  will  be  no  cleanness  in  the 
conversation ;  as  worms  in  wood  will  at  length  cause  the  rottenness  to 
appear.  How  soon  do  lusts  bewray  themselves !  Pride  runneth  into 
the  eyes,  therefore  we  read  of  '  haughty  eyes/  Prov.  vi.  17,  or  into  the 
feet,  causing  a  strutting  gait  or  gesture.  A  wanton  mind  peepeth 
out  through  wanton  eyes  and  a  gazing  look.  A  garish,  frothy 
spirit  bewrayeth  itself  in  the  vanity  of  apparel,  and  a  filthy  heart  in 
the  rottenness  of  communication  ;  the  eyes,  the  feet,  the  tongue,  the 
life  do  easily  bewray  what  is  seated  in  the  heart.  Momus,  in  the  fable, 
quarrelled  with  God  for  not  making  a  window  at  every  man's  breast, 
that  others  might  see  what  was  in  it.  There  needeth  no  such  dis 
covery.  Time  showeth  what  births  there  are  in  the  womb ;  so  will 
the  life  what  lusts  are  conceived  and  fostered  in  the  heart,  for  lust 
delighteth  to  bring  forth.  Well,  then : — 

1.  Learn  that  hypocrites  cannot  always  be  hidden,  disguises  will 
fall  off.  Men  flatter  themselves  in  their  hidden  sins,  but  they  will  be 
'  found  hateful/  Ps.  xxxvi.  2 ;  that  is,  scandalous  and  inconvenient. 
God  hath  peremptorily  determined  that  '  their  wickedness  shall  be 
showed  before  the  comgregation/  Prov.  xxvi.  26.  Some  misbehaviour 

JAS.  I.  15.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  103 

will  bring  it  to  light ;  art  and  fiction  is  not  durable.  The  apostle 
saith,  1  Tim.  v.  25,  '  They  that  are  otherwise  cannot  be  hidden ; ' 
that  is,  otherwise  than  good. 

2.  Learn  the  danger  of  neglecting  lusts  and  thoughts.     If  these  be 
not  suppressed,  they  will  ripen  into  sins  and  acts  of  filthiness.     While 
we  are  negligent   and  our  care  is  intermitted,  the  business  of  sin 
thriveth  and  goeth  on.     Allowed  thoughts  bring  the  mind  and  the 
temptation  together.    David  mused  on  Bathsheba's  beauty,  and  so  was 
all  on  fire.     It  is  ill  dallying  with  thoughts. 

3.  Learn  what  a  mercy  it  is  to  be  hindered  of  our  evil  intentions, 
that  sinful  conceptions  are  still-born,  and  when  we  wanted  no  lust  we 
should  want  an  occasion.     Mere  restraints  are  a  blessing.     We  are 
not  so  evil  as  otherwise  we  would  be.     Lust  would  bring  forth.     God 
would  have  Abimelech  to  acknowledge  mercy  in  a  restraint :  Gen.  xx. 
6,  '  I  withheld  thee  from  sinning  against  her/     David  blessed  God 
that  the  rash  executions  of  his  rage  were  prevented :  '  Blessed  be  the 
God  of  Israel,  which  sent  thee  to  meet  me  this  day/  1  Sam.  xxv.  32. 
God  smote  Paul  from  his  horse,  and  so  took  him  off  from  persecution, 
when  his  heart  boiled  with  rancour  and  malice  against  the  saints,  Acts 
ix.    Oh  !  take  notice  of  such  instances  when  your  way  of  sin  hath  been 
hedged  up  by  providence,  Hosea  ii.   6 ;   and  though  lusts   be  not 
checked,  yet  the  execution  is  disappointed :  you  were  mad,  arid  should 
have  gone  on  furiously,  but  that  God  '  fenced  up  your  way  with  thorns.' 

Obs.  4.  That  the  result  and  last  effect  of  sin  is  death ;  so  the  apostle 
Paul,  Bom.  vi.  21,  'The  end  of  these  things  is  death.'  It  cometh 
with  a  pleasing  and  delightful  sweetness,  promising  nothing  but  satis 
faction  and  contentment,  but  the  end  is  death.  So  Ezek.  xviii.  4, 
'  The  soul  that  sinneth  it  shall  die.'  It  is  an  express  law  that  brooketh 
only  the  exception  of  free  grace ;  it  shall  die  temporally,  die  eternally. 
This  is  a  principle  impressed  upon  nature ;  the  very  heathens  were 
sensible  of  it :  Kom.  i.  32,  '  Knowing  that  they  which  commit  such 
things  are  worthy  of  death.'  Mark,  the  apostle  saith  the  heathens 
knew  it.  Conscience,  being  sensible  of  the  wrong  done  to  the  godhead, 
could  fear  nothing  less  from  angry  justice.  Draco,  the  rigid  law 
giver,  being  asked  why,  when  sins  were  equal,1  he  appointed  death 
to  all  ?  answered,  He  knew  that  sins  were  not  all  equal,  but  he  knew 
the  least  deserved  death.  This  was  that  that  made  the  heathens  at 
such  a  loss  for  a  satisfaction  to  divine  justice,  because  they  could  find 
none  sufficient  to  redeem  their  guilty  souls  from  the  dread  of  death ; 
and  therefore  the  first  effect  of  the  blood  of  Christ  upon  the  conscience 
is  '  purging  from  dead  works/  Heb.  ix.  14  ;  that  is,  from  that  sentence 
of  death  which  the  conscience  receiveth  by  reason  of  our  works.  The 
Papists  on  this  point,  worse  than  the  heathen,  hold  some  sins  venial  in 
their  own  nature.  It  is  true,  it  is  said,  1  John  v.  17,  *  There  is  a  sin 
not  unto  death ; '  but  that  place  speaketh  of  the  event,  not  the  merit ; 
words,  evil  thoughts,  the  least  sins,  deserve  death.  Do  not  think  God 
will  be2  so  extreme.  If  you  have  no  better  plea,  that  will  be  a  sorry 
refuge  in  the  day  of  wrath.  David  a  Mauden,3  a  learned  Papist,  saith, 
Those  sins  are  only  to  be  counted  mortal — (1.)  Which  are  said  to  be 

1  Qu.  '  Not  equal '  ?— ED.  2  Qu. '  Will  not  be '  ?— ED. 

3  David  a  Mauden  in  Prefat.  Comment,  in  Decalog. 

104  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  15. 

an  abomination  to  God,  and  hated  by  him,  in  scripture ;  (2.)  To 
which  a  Fee,  or  woe,  is  expressly  denounced  ;  or  (3.),  Are  distinctly 
said  to  be  worthy  of  eternal  death ;  or  (4.)  To  exclude  and  shut  out 
from  the  kingdom  of  itaaven ;  or  (5.)  Such  as  by  the  law  of  nature 
are  directly  repugnant  to  the  love  of  God  or  our  neighbour.  But, 
alas !  all  this  is  to  be  wise  without  the  word.  It  is  true  God  hath 
expressly  declared  more  of  his  displeasure  against  these  sins  than 
others,  and  therefore  we  are  more  ^ound  and  engaged  to  avoid  them, 
but  they  are  all  mortal  in  their  merit. 

Use  1.  It  teacheth  us  how  to  stop  the  violence  of  lust ;  this  will  be 
death  and  damnation.  Oh !  consider  it,  an^l  set  it  as  a  flaming  sword 
in  the  way  of  your  carnal  delights.  Observ^  now  w}sely  God  hath 
ordered  it,  much  of  sin  is  pleasant ;  ay !  but  thei-e  is  death  in  the  pot, 
and  so  fear  may  counterbalance  delight.  x\noi^her  part  of  sin  is 
serious,  as  worldliness,  in  which  there  is  no  gros^,  act}  and  so  there 
being  nothing  foul  to  work  upon  shame,  there  is  something  dreadful 
to  work  upon  fear.  Well,  then,  awaken  the  soul ;  consider  what 
Wisdom  saith,  Prov.  viii.  36,  'He  that  farsaketh  me  i^oveth  death/ 
It  is  against  nature  for  a  creature  to  love  its  own  death  ;  an  natural 
motions  are  for  self-preservation.  Oh !  why  then  should  1"  ,Satisfy  my 
flesh  to  endanger  my  soul  ?  God  himself  puts  on  a  pa,6Sjon)  an(J 
reasoneth  thus  with  us,  Ezek.  xxxiii.  11,  '  Why  will  ye  die,  Q  house 
of  Israel  ? '  Why  will  you  wilfully  throw  away  your  o\vn'\  souls  ? 
Why  will  ye  for  a  superfluous  cup  adventure  to  drink  a  cup  oi?  wrath 
unmixed?  For  a  little  estate  in  the  world  make  hell  your  poi-fton? 
It  is  sweet  for  the  present,  but  it  will  be  death.  Sin's  best  are  S0on 
spent,  the  worst  is  always  behind. 

Use  2.  It  showeth  what  reason  we  have  to  mortify  sin  lest  it  mor^ jfy 
us  ;  no  sins  are  mortal  but  such  as  are  not  mortified  ;  either  sin  mi-jst 
die,  or  the  sinner.  The  life  of  sin  and  the  life  of  a  sinner  are  like  t\y0 
buckets  in  a  well — if  the  one  goeth  up  the  other  must  come  dowi;^ 
When  sin  liveth  the  sinner  must  die.  There  is  an  evil  in  sin  and  a?n 
evil  after  sin.  The  evil  in  sin  is  the  violation  of  God's  law,  and  th'tp 
evil  after  sin  is  the  just  punishment  of  it.  Now,  those  that  are  not; 
sensible  of  the  evil  in  sin  shall  be  sensible  of  the  evil  after  sin.  To 
the  regenerate  person,  all  God's  dispensations  are  to  save  the  person 
and  destroy  the  sin,  Ps.  xcix.  8 :  '  Thou  wast  a  God  that  forgavest 
them,  and  tookest  vengeance  of  their  inventions/  God  spared  the 
sinner  and  took  vengeance  on  the  sin;  but  the  unmortified  person 
spareth  his  sins,  and  his  life  goeth  for  it ;  as  the  apostle  Paul  speaketh 
of  himself  when  the  power  of  the  word  came  first  upon  him,  Rom. 
vii.  9,  '  Sin  revived  and  I  died/  Sin  was  exasperated,  and  he  felt 
nothing  but  terror  and  condemnation.  Oh  !  then,  consider  it  is  better 
sin  should  be  condemned  than  you  should  be  condemned;  as  the 
apostle  speaketh  of  the  condemnation  of  sin,  Rom.  viii.  3,  '  For  sin, 
he  condemned  sin  in  the  flesh;'  that  is,  Christ  being  made  a  sacrifice 
for  sin,  sin  was  condemned  to  save  the  sinner.  Reason  thus  within 
yourselves :  It  is  better  sin  should  die  than  I  should  die  :  '  Thy  life  goes 
for  its  life/  as  it  is  in  the  prophet's  parable,  1  Kings  xx.  39  ;  therefore 
let  me  destroy  my  sin,  that  my  soul  may  escape. 

Use  3.  Bless  God  that  hath  delivered  you  out  of  a  sinful  state ; 

JAS.  I.  16.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  105 

your  soul  hath  escaped  a  snare  of  death.  Oh  !  never  look  back  upon 
Sodom  but  with  detestation ;  bless  God  that  you  are  escaped :  '  Blessed 
be  the  Lord  that  gave  me  counsel  in  my  reins/  Ps.  xvi.  7.  I  might 
have  been  Satan's  bond- slave,  lust's  vassal,  and  have  earned  no  other 
wages  but  my  own  death,  but  he  hath  called  me  to  life  and  peace. 
Conversion  is  onewhere  expressed  by  a  'calling  out  of  darkness  into 
a  marvellous  light/  that  is  much ;  but  in  another,  by  a  '  translating 
from  death  to  life/  that  is  more.  It  is  no  less  a  change  than  from 
death  to  life.  I  might  have  wasted  away  my  days  in  pleasure  and 
vanity,  and  afterwards  gone  to  hell.  '  Oh !  blessed  be  the  name  of 
God  for  evermore,  that  hath  delivered  me  from  so  great  a  death ! ' 

Ver.  1 6.  Do  not  err,  my  beloved  brethren. 

The  apostle  having  disputed  the  matter  with  them  about  God  being 
the  author  of  sin,  he  dissuadeth  them  from  this  blasphemy.  There  is 
no  difficulty  in  this  verse. 

Do  not  err,  p,^  TT\avacr6e,  do  not  wander ;  a  metaphor  taken  from 
sheep,  and  sometimes  it  noteth  errors  in  practice,  or  going  off  from 
the  word  as  a  rule  of  righteousness,  as  it  is  said,  Isa.  Ixiii.  17,  '  We 
have  erred  from  thy  ways  ; '  sometimes  errors  in  judgment,  or  going 
off  from  the  word  as  the  standard  and  measure  of  truth,  which  we 
most  commonly  express  by  this  term  *  error.' 

My  beloved  brethren. — Dealing  with  them  about  an  error,  he  dealeth 
with  them  very  meekly,  and  therefore  is  the  compilation  so  loving  and 

This  verse  will  afford  some  points. 

Obs.  1.  It  is  not  good  to  brand  things  with  the  name  of  error  till 
we  have  proved  them  to  be  so.  After  he  had  disputed  the  matter  with 
them,  he  saith,  '  Err  not.'  (1.)  Loose  slings  will  do  no  good.  To 
play  about  us  with  terms  of  heresy  and  error  doth  but  prejudice  men's 
minds,  and  exulcerate  them  against  our  testimony.  None  but  fools 
will  be  afraid  of  hot  words.  Discoveries  do  far  better  than  invectives. 
Usually  that  is  a  peevish  zeal  that  stayeth  in  generals.  It  is  observ 
able,  Mat.  xxiii.,  from  ver.  13  to  33,  our  Saviour  denounceth  never  a 
woe  but  he  presently  rendereth  a  reason  for  it.  '  Woe  unto  you,  for 
ye  shut  the  kingdom  of  heaven;'  and  again,  '  Woe  unto  you,  for  ye 
devour  widows'  houses/  &c.  You  never  knew  a  man  gained  by  loose 
slings.  The  business  is  to  make  good  the  charge,  to  discover  what  is 
heresy  and  what  is  antichristianism,  &c.  (2.)  This  is  an  easy  way  to 
blemish  the  holy  truths  of  God.  How  often  do  the  Papists  spread  that 
livery  upon  us,  heretics  and  schismatics.  They  '  speak  evil  of  things 
they  do  not  know/  Jude  10.  When  men  are  loath  to  descend  to  the  trial 
of  a  way,  they  blemish  it :  Acts  xxiv.  14,  '  After  the  way  which  they 
call  heresy  we  worship  the  God  of  our  fathers/  Men  condemn  things 
suddenly  and  rashly,  and  so  often  truth  is  miscalled.  If  matters  were 
dispatched  by  arguments  rather  than  censures,  we  should  have  less 
differences.  The  most  innocent  truths  may  suffer  under  an  odious 
imputation.  The  spouse  had  her  veil  taken  from  her,  and  represented 
to  the  world  as  a  prostitute,  Cant.  iii.  The  Christians  were  called 
Genus  hominum  superstitionis  malificce,1  a  wicked  sort  of  men,  and 
Christianity  a  witchery  and  superstition. 

1  Tacit.  Anual.,  lib.  xv. ;  Sueton.  in  Nero,  cap.  16. 

106  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  16. 

Use.  Oh  !  then,  that  in  this  age  we  would  practise  this  :  Be  less 
in  passion  and  more  in  argument.  That  we  would  condemn  things 
by  reasoning  rather  than  miscalling.  That  we  were  less  in  generals, 
and  would  deal  more  particularly.  This  is  the  way  to  '  stablish  men 
in  the  present  truth.'  In  morals,  the  word  seldom  doth  good  but 
when  it  is  brought  home  to  the  very  case.  Thunder  at  a  distance 
doth  not  move  us  so  much  as  a  clap  in  our  own  zenith  ;  that  maketh 
us  startle.  General  invectives  make  but  superficial  impressions  ;  show 
what  is  an  error,  and  then  call  it  so.  Truly  that  was  the  way  in 
ancient  times.  At  first,  indeed,  for  peace'  sake,  some1  have  observed 
that  the  fathers  declaimed  generally  against  errors  about  the  power 
of  nature,  not  meddling  with  the  persons  or  particular  tenets  of  Pela- 
gius  and  his  disciples  ;  but  afterward  they  saw  cause  for  being  more 
particular.  Loose  discourses  lose  their  profit.  Blunt  iron,  that 
toucheth  many  points  at  once,  doth  not  enter,  but  make  a  bruise  ;  but 
a  needle,  that  toucheth  but  one  point,  entereth  to  the  quick.  When 
we  come  to  deal  particularly  with  every  man's  work,  then  the  fire 
trieth  it,  1  Cor.  iii.  13.  I  do  the  rather  urge  this  because  usually 
ungrounded  zeal  stayeth  in  generals,  and  those  that  know  least  are 
most  loose  and  invective  in  their  discourses. 

Ols.  2.  We  should  as  carefully  avoid  errors  as  vices  ;  a  blind  eye 

is  worse  than  a  lame  foot,  yea,  a  blind  eye  will  cause  it  ;  he  that  hath 

not  light  is  apt  to  stumble  :  Kom.  i.  26  ,  first  they  were  given  up,  efc 

'  ' 

to  a  vain  mind/  and  then  '  to  vile  affections/  Some 
opinions  seem  to  be  remote,  and  to  lie  far  enough  from  practice,  and 
yet  they  have  an  influence  upon  it  ;  they  mcke  the  heart  foolish,  and 
then  the  life  will  not  be  right.  There  is  a  link  and  cognation  between 
truth  and  truth,  as  there  is  between  grace  and  grace  ;  and  therefore 
speculative  errors  do  but  make  way  for  practical.  Again,  there  are 
some  errors  that  seem  to  encourage  strictness,  as  free-will,  universal 
grace,  &c.  ;  but,  truly  weighed,  they  are  the  greatest  discouragement  ; 
and  therefore  it  hath  been  the  just  judgment  of  God  that  the  broachers 
of  such  opinions  have  been  most  loose  in  life,  and  (as  the  apostle 
Peter  maketh  it  the  character  of  all  erroneous  persons,  2  Peter  ii.) 
vain  and  sensual.  The  apostle  Paul  presseth  strictness,  and  our  work 
the  more  earnestly,  because  God  must  work  all,  Phil.  ii.  12,  13. 
Well,  then,  beware  of  erroneous  conceits  ;  your  spirit  is  embased  by 
them.  Men  think  nothing  is  to  be  shunned  but  what  is  foul  in  act, 
and  so  publicly  odious.  Consider,  there  is  '  filthiness  in  the  spirit'  as 
well  as  '  in  the  flesh/  2  Cor.  vii.  1  ;  and  a  vain  mind  is  as  bad  and  as 
odious  to  God  as  a  vicious  life.  Error  and  idolatry  will  be  as  dan 
gerous  as  drunkenness  and  whoredom  ;  and  therefore  you  should  as 
carefully  avoid  them  that  would  entice  you  to  errors,  as  those  that  will 
draw  you  to  sin  and  profaneness  ;  for  error,  being  the  more  plausible 
of  the  two,  the  delusion  is  the  more  strong  :  natural  conscience  will 
smite  for  profaneness.  Many,  I  am  persuaded,  dally  with  opinions, 
because  they  do  not  know  the  dangerous  result  of  them  :  all  false  prin 
ciples  have  a  secret  but  pestilent  influence  on  the  life  and  conversation. 
Obs.  3.  Do  not  err  ;  that  is,  do  not  mistake  in  this  matter,  because 
it  is  a  hard  thing  to  conceive  how  God  concurreth  to  the  act,  and  not 

1  See  Usser  de  Britann.  Eccl.  Primordiis,  p.  221. 

JAS.  I,  16.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  107 

to  the  evil  of  the  act ;  how  he  should  be  the  author  of  all  things,  and 
not  the  author  of  sin  :  therefore  he  saith,  however  it  be  difficult  to 
conceive,  yet  '  Do  not  err/  The  note  is,  that  where  truths  cannot  be 
plainly  and  easily  made  out  to  the  apprehension,  men  are  apt  to 
swerve  from  them.  Many  truths  suffer  much  because  of  their  intri 
cacy  ,  errors  may  be  so  near  alike  that  it  is  hard  to  distinguish  them : 
the  nature  of  man  is  prone  to  error,  and  therefore  when  the  truth  is  hard 
to  find  out,  we  content  ourselves  with  our  own  prejudices.  All  truths 
are  encumbered  with  such  a  difficulty  that  they  which  have  a  mind 
to  doubt  and  wrangle  do  easily  stumble  at  it:  John  vi.  60,  '  This  is  a 
hard  saying ;  who  can  hear  it  ? '  that  is,  understand  it ;  and  then,  ver. 
66,  '  From  that  time  many  of  his  disciples  went  back,  and  walked  no 
more  with  him.'  When  there  is  something  to  justify  our  prejudices, 
we  think  we  are  safe  enough.  God  leaveth  justly  such  difficulties  for 
a  stumbling-block  to  them  that  have  a  mind  to  be  offended.  The 
Pharisees  and  people  that  had  followed  Christ  thought  themselves 
well  enough,  because  of  the  darkness  of  those  expressions,  as  if  it  did 
justify  their  apostasy;  so  when  there  are  some  involucra  veritatis, 
some  covers  of  difficulty,  in  which  truth  is  lapped  up  from  a  common 
eye,  we  think  our  assent  may  be  excused :  as  Jews  say,  that  surely 
Christ  was  not  the  Messiah,  because  he  did  not  come  in  such  a  way  as 
to  satisfy  all  his  own  countrymen ;  so  many  refuse  truth  because  it 
will  require  some  industry  and  exercise  to  find  it  out.  God  never 
meant  to  satisfy  liominibus  prcefracti  myenii,1  men  of  a  captious  and 
perverse  wit ;  and  therefore  truth  is  represented  in  such  a  manner, 
that  though  there  be  plainness  enough  to  those  that  have  a  mind  to 
know,  yet  difficulty  enough  to  harden  others  to  their  own  ruin.  Men 
would  fain  spare  the  pains  of  prayer,  study,  and  discourse ;  they  are 
loath  to  '  cry  for  knowledge,  to  dig  for  it  as  for  silver/  Prov.  ii.  4 ;  they 
love  an  easy,  short  way  to  truth,  and  therefore  run  away  with  those 
mistakes  which  come  next  to  hand,  vainly  imagining  that  God  doth 
not  require  belief  to  such  things  as  are  difficult  and  hard  to  be  under 
stood  ;  they  do  not  look  to  what  is  sound  and  solid,  but  what  is  plau 
sible,  and  at  first  blush  reconcilable  with  their  thoughts  and  appre 

Use  1.  You  see,  then,  what  need  you  have  to  pray  for  gifts  of 
interpretation,  and  a  '  door  of  utterance'  for  your  ministers,  and  a  know 
ing  heart  for  yourselves,  that  you  may  not  be  discouraged  by  the 
difficulties  that  fence  up  the  way  of  truth.  Pray  that  God  would  give 
us  a  clear  spirit,  a  plain  expression,  and  yourselves  a  right  under 
standing  ;  this  will  be  better  than  to  cavil  at  the  dispensation  of  God, 
that  he  should  leave  the  world  in  such  doubt  and  suspense.  Chry- 
sostom  observeth,  that  the  saints  do  not  pray,  Lord,  make  a  plainer 
law,  but,  Lord,  open  my  eyes,  that  I  may  see  the  wonders  of  thy  law ; 
as  David  doth.  It  were  an  unjust  demand  for  blind  men,  or  they 
that  willingly  shut  their  eyes,  to  desire  God  to  make  such  a  sun  that 
they  might  see  ;  it  is  better  to  desire  gifts  of  the  Spirit  for  the  minister, 
that  the  scriptures  might  be  opened  ;  and  the  grace  of  the  Spirit  for 
ourselves,  that  our  understandings  might  be  opened,  that  so  we  may 
come  to  discern  the  mind  of  God. 

1  Camero  de  Eccles. 

108  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.   I.  16. 

Use  2.  It  showeth  how  much  they  are  to  blame  that  darken  truth, 
and  make  the  things  of  God  the  more  obscure.  '  They  darken  counsel 
by  words/  that  by  method  or  manner  of  speaking  perplex  the  under 
standing,  that  people  can  hardly  reach  the  letter  of  things  delivered. 
Many  men  have  a  faculty  to  raise  a  cloud  of  dust  with  their  own  feet, 
and  so  darken  the  brightness  and  glory  of  the  scriptures ;  certainly 
such  men  either  envy  the  commonness  of  knowledge,  or  serve  their 
own  esteem,  when  they  draw  all  things  to  a  difficulty,  and  would  seem 
to  swim  there,  where  they  may  easily  wade,  yea,  pass  over  dry-shod. 

Ols.  4.  Again,  from  that  do  not  err.  Take  in  the  weightiness  of 
the  matter.  Ah  !  would  you  err  in  this  point,  in  a  business  that  doth 
so  deeply  intrench  upon  the  honour  of  God  ?  The  mistake  being  so 
dangerous,  he  is  the  more  earnest.  Oh  !  do  not  err.  The  note  is,  that 
errors  about  the  nature  of  God  are  very  dangerous.  There  is  nothing 
more  natural  to  us  than  to  have  ill  thoughts  of  God,  and  nothing 
more  dangerous  ;  all  practice  dependeth  upon  it,  to  keep  the  glory  of 
God  unstained  in  your  apprehensions.  You  shall  see,  Kom.  i.  23,  24, 
'  They  changed  the  glory  of  God/  &c.,  and  then  '  God  gave  them  up 
to  uncleanness.'  Idolatry  is  often  expressed  by  whoredom ;  bodily 
and  spiritual  uncleanness  usually  go  together :  ill  thoughts  of  God 
debauch  the  spirit,  and  make  men  lose  their  sense  and  care  of  piety. 
Well,  then,  take  heed  of  erring  this  error :  let  not  the  nature  or  glory 
of  God  be  blemished  in  your  thoughts ;  abhor  whatever  cometh  into 
your  mind,  or  may  be  suggested  by  others,  if  it  tend  any  way  to 
abate  your  esteem  of  God,  or  to  eclipse  the  divine  glory  in  your 

06s.  5.  From  that  my  beloved  brethren.  Gentle  dealing  will  best 
become  dissuasives  from  error.  One  saith,  we  must  speak  to  kings, 
fyriiiaa-i,  ftvcra-ivois,  with  silken  words.  Certainly  we  had  need  to 
use  much  tenderness  to  persons  that  differ  from  us,  speak  to  them  in 
silken  words.  Where  the  matter  is  like  to  displease,  the  manner  should 
not  be  bitter  :  pills  must  be  sugared,  that  they  may  down  the  better  : 
many  a  man  hath  been  lost  through  violence :  you  engage  them  to 
the  other  party.  As  Tertullian,  when  he  had  spoken  "favourably  of 
the  Montanists,  by  the  violence  of  the  priests  of  Kome  he  was  forced 
into  their  fellowship.1  Meekness  may  gain  those  that  are  not  engaged. 
Men  of  another  party  will  think  all  is  spoken  out  of  rage  and  anger 
against  them ;  it  is  good  to  give  them  as  little  cause  as  may  be, 
especially  if  but  inclining  through  weakness  to  an  error.  Oh !  '  do  not 
err,  my  beloved  brethren.'  I  would  to  God  we  could  learn  this  wis 
dom  in  this  age :  2  Tim.  ii.  25,  '  In  meekness  instructing  those  that 
oppose  themselves,  if  peradventure  God  will  give  them  repentance  to 
the  acknowledging  of  the  truth.'  Others  will  brook  sharpness  better 
than  they:  every  man  that  is  of  a  contrary  opinion  thinketh  feat 
he  hath  the  advantage  ground  of  another,  as  being  in  the  right ;  and 
pride  is  always  touchy.  Outward  gross  sins  fill  the  soul  with  more 
shame,  and  upon  conviction  there  is  not  that  boldness  of  reply ;  for  a 
man  is  so  far  under  another  as  he  may  be  reproved  by  him  :  but  now 
here,  where  every  man  thinketh  himself  upon  equal  or  higher  terms, 
we  had  need  deal  the  more  meekly,  lest  pride  take  prejudice,  and,  out 

1  '  Prorsus  in  Montani  partes  transivit.' — Pamcl.  in  Vita  Tertul. 

JAS.  I.  17.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  109 

of  a  distaste  of  the  manner,  snuff  at  the  matter  itself :  but  of  this 

Ver.  17.  Every  good  gift  and  every  perfect  gift  is  from  above,  and 
cometh  down  from  the  Father  of  lights,  with  ivhom  is  no  variable 
ness,  neither  shadow  of  turning. 

He  taketh  occasion  from  the  former  matter,  which  was  to  show  you 
that  God  was  not  the  author  of  sin,  to  show  you  that  God  is  the 
author  of  all  good,  especially  the  spiritual  gifts  and  graces  bestowed 
on  us ;  in  which  there  is  an  argument  secretly  couched :  the  author 
of  all  good  cannot  be  the  author  of  evil.  Now  '  every  good  and  perfect 
gift '  is  of  God ;  and  because  the  argument  should  be  the  more  strong 
by  an  allusion  to  the  sun,  he  representeth  God,  in  the  latter  part  of 
the  verse,  as  essentially  and  immutably  good. 

Every  good  gift. — The  vulgar  readeth  *  the  best  gift,'  properly 
enough  to  the  sense,  but  not  to  the  original  words.  The  gift  is  called 
good,  either — (1.)  To  exclude  those  gifts  of  Satan  which  are  indeed 
injuries  rather  than  gifts:  a  blind  mind,  2  Cor.  iv.  4;  unruly  affec 
tions,  Eph.  ii.  2.  These  gifts,  that  are  from  beneath,  are  not  good. 
(2.)  To  note  the  kind  of  gifts  which  he  speaketh  of ;  not  common  mercies, 
but  good  gifts,  such  as  the  apostle  calleth  elsewhere  Trvev^anKa^ 
evhoyias, '  spiritual  blessings/  Eph.  i.  3.  It  is  true  all  common  gifts 
come  from  the  divine  bounty  ;  but  the  apostle  intendeth  here  special 
blessings,  as  appeareth  partly  by  the  attributes  '  good '  and  '  perfect.' 
It  is  true  some  distinguish  between  the  two  clauses,  makin 
ayaOrj,  or  '  good  gift,'  to  imply  earthly  blessings,  and  &w/o7^t 
'  perfect  gift,'  to  imply  heavenly  or  spiritual  blessings ;  but  I  suppose 
that  is  too  curious.  These  two  words  imply  the  same  mercies  with  a 
different  respect,  as  by  and  by  ;  partly  because  such  mercies  suit  with 
the  context,  look  upon  it  forward  or  backward.  In  the  foregoing 
verses  he  speaketh  about  God  being  the  author  of  sin,  and  no  argu 
ment  is  so  fit  to  batter  down  that  conceit  as  that  God  is  the  author  of 
special  and  saving  grace ;  arid  in  the  following  verse  he  instanceth 
in  regeneration,  partly  because  those  mercies  are  most  clearly  from 
God,  and  need  little  of  the  concurrence  of  second  causes. 

And  every  perfect  gift;  that  is,  such  as  do  anyway  conduce  to 
our  perfection,  not  only  initial  and  first  grace,  but  all  the  progresses  in 
the  spiritual  life,  and  at  last  perfection  and  eternal  life  itself,  are  the 
gift  of  God.  Though  eternal  death  be  a  wages,  yet  eternal  life  is  a 
gift ;  and  therefore  the  apostle  diversifieth  the  phrase  when  he  corn- 
pareth  them  both  together,  Rom.  vi.  23.  The  sum  is,  that  not  only 
the  beginning,  but  all  the  gradual  accesses  from  grace  to  glory,  are  by 
gift,  and  from  the  free  mercy  of  God. 

Is  from  above ;  that  is,  from  heaven.  The  same  phrase  is  else 
where  used :  John  iii.  21,  'He  that  cometh  from  above  is  above  all ; ' 
that  is,  from  heaven.  And  heaven  is  put  for  God,  as  Luke  xv.  21, 
1 1  have  sinned  against  heaven,  and  against  thee;'  that  is,  against 
God  and  his  earthly  father.  And  I  suppose  there  is  some  special 
reason  why  our  blessings  are  said  to  be  from  above,  because  they  were 
designed  there,  and  thither  is  their  aim  and  tendency,  and  there  are 
they  perfectly  enjoyed ;  and  therefore,  Eph.  i.  3,  are  we  said  to  be 
'blessed  with  spiritual  blessings  in  heavenly  places;3  therefore  'in 

110  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  17. 

heavenly  places/  because  thence  was  their  original,  and  there  is  their 

And  descendeth  or  cometJi  down;  not  '  falleth  down/  to  show  (saith 
Aquinas)  that  we  have  not  blessings  by  chance,  but  in  the  way  of 
regular  means. 

From  the  Father  of  lights ;  that  is,  from  God.  The  word  father 
is  often  used  for  the  author  or  first  cause,  as  Gen.  iv.  20,  21,  '  The 
father  of  such  as  dwell  in  tents  ; '  '  the  father  of  those  that  handle  the 
harp ; '  that  is,  the  author  and  founder.  So  God  is  elsewhere  called 
1  Father  of  spirits/  Heb.  xii.  9,  because  they  do  not  run  in  the  material 
channel  of  a  fleshly  descent,  but  are  immediately  created  by  God. 
Well,  but  what  is  meant  by  Father  of  lights  ?  Some  conceive  that 
it  intendeth  no  more  but  '  glorious  Father/  as  it  is  usual  with  the 
Hebrews  to  put  the  genitive  case  for  an  epithet,  and  the  genitive 
plural  for  the  superlative  degree.  But  I  conceive  rather  God  is  here 
spoken  of  in  allusion  to  the  sun,  who  deriveth  and  streameth  out  his 
light  to  all  the  stars  ;  and  so  God,  being  the  author  of  all  perfections, 
which  are  also  signified  and  expressed  by  light,  is  called  here  '  The 
Father  of  lights/  Therefore  it  is  usual  in  the  scriptures  to  attribute 
light  to  God  and  darkness  to  the  devil ;  as  Luke  xxii.  53,  '  This  is 
your  hour,  the  power  of  darkness ; '  that  is,  of  Satan.  More  of  this 
term  in  the  points. 

With  lohom  is  no  variableness,  7rapa\\ayr). — It  is  an  astronomical 
word  or  term,  taken  from  the  heavenly  bodies,  which  suffer  many 
declinations  and  revolutions  which  they  call  parallaxes,  a  word  that 
hath  great  affinity  with  this  used  by  the  apostle.  The  heavenly  lights 
have  their  vicissitudes,  eclipses,  and  decreases ;  but  our  sun  shineth 
always  with  a  like  brightness  and  glory. 

Neither  shadow  of  turning,  r/aoTn}?  airoaKiacrpa. — The  allusion  is 
continued.  Stars,  according  to  their  different  light  and  posture,  have 
divers  adumbrations ;  as,  the  nearer  the  sun  is  to  us,  the  less  shadow 
it  casteth ;  the  farther  off,  the  greater  :  so  that  we  know  the  various 
motions  and  turning  of  the  sun  by  the  difference  of  the  shadows.  But 
the  Father  of  spiritual  lights  is  not  like  the  father  or  fountain  of 
bodily :  with  him  is  no  shadow  of  turning ;  that  is,  he  is  without  any 
motion  or  change,  any  local  accesses  and  recesses,  remaineth  always 
the  same.  This  is  a  sun  that  doth  not  set  or  rise,  cannot  be  overcast 
or  eclipsed. 

The  notes  are  these : — 

Obs.  1.  That  all  good  things  are  from  above ;  they  come  to  us  from  God. 
Mere  evil  is  not  from  above  ;  '  the  same  fountain  doth  not  yield  sweet 
and  bitter  waters.'  God  is  good,  and  immutably  good,  and  therefore 
it  cannot  be  from  him,  which  was  Plato's  argument.  Evils  do  not 
come  from  God,  because  he  is  good ;  which  reasoning  is  true,  if  it  be 
understood  of  evils  of  sin ;  for  otherwise,  '  Shall  there  be  evil  in  a  city 
and  the  Lord  hath  not  done  it?'  Amos  iii.  6.  But  for  good  that 
floweth  clearly  from  the  upper  spring,  there  are  indeed  some  pipes 
and  conveyances,  as  the  word,  and  prayer,  and  the  seals;  and  for 
ordinary  blessings,  your  industry  and  care.  But  your  fresh  springs  are 
in  God ;  and  in  all  these  things  we  must,  as  chickens,  sip  and  look 
upwards.  It  is,  I  confess,  the  waywardness  of  flesh  and  blood  to  look 

JAS.  I.  17.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  Ill 

to  the  next  hand,  as  children  thank  the  tailor  for  the  new  coat,  and 
suffer  the  immediate  helps  to  intercept  their  trust  and  respects ;  and 
therefore  God  often  curseth  the  means,  and  blasteth  our  endeavours. 
The  divine  jealousy  will  not  brook  a  rival.  God  delighteth  in  this 
honour  of  being  the  sole  author  of  all  our  good,  and  therefore  cannot 
endure  that  we  should  give  it  to  another.  When  God  was  about  to 
work  miracles  by  Moses'  hand,  he  first  made  it  leprous,  Exod.  iv.  6. 
There  he  was  aforehand  with  this  sin ;  first  or  last,  the  hand  of  the 
creature  is  made  leprous.  This  note,  that  God  is  the  author  of  all  the 
good  that  is  in  us,  is  useful  to  prevent  many  corruptions ;  as,  (1.) 
Glorying  in  ourselves.  Who  would  magnify  himself  in  that  which  is 
from  above?  We  count  it  odious  for  a  man  to  set  out  himself  in 
another  man's  work  and  glory  ;  as  the  apostle  saith,  2  Cor.  x.  16,  that 
he  would  not  'boast  in  another  man's  line  of  things  made  ready  to 
his  hands.'  Now,  all  good  is  made  ready  to  your  hand;  it  is  the 
bounty  of  heaven  to  you.  It  is  not  your  line  and  work,  but  God's. 
(2.)  Insultation,  or  vaunting  it  over  others.  Had  we  all  from  ourselves, 
the  highest  might  have  the  highest  mind ;  but  '  who  made  you  to 
differ  ? '  1  Cor.  iv.  7.  Carnal  and  weak  spirits  feed  their  lusts  with 
their  enjoyments.  A  straight  pillar,  the  more  you  lay  upon  it,  the 
straighter  it  is,  and  the  more  stable;  but  that  which  is  crooked 
boweth  under  its  weight :  so  the  more  God  casteth  in  upon  carnal 
men,  the  more  is  their  spirit  perverted.  (3.)  Envy  to  those  that  have 
received  most.  Our  eye  is  evil  when  God's  hand  is  good.  Envy  is  a 
rebellion  against  God  himself,  and  the  liberty  and  pleasure  of  his 
dispensations.  God  distributeth  gifts  and  blessings  as  he  will,  not  as 
we  will ;  our  duty  is  to  be  contented,  and  to  beg  grace  to  make  use  of 
what  we  have  received. 

Obs.  2.  Whatever  we  have  from  above,  we  have  it  in  the  way  of 
a  gift.  We  have  nothing  but  '  what  we  have  received/  and  what  we 
have  received  we  have  received  '  freely.'  There  is  nothing  in  us  that 
could  oblige  God  to  bestow  it ;  the  favours  of  heaven  are  not  set  to 
sale.  When  God  inviteth  us  to  mercy,  he  doth  not  invite  us  as  a 
host,  but  as  a  king ;  not  to  buy,  but  to  take  :  they  are  most  welcome 
that  have  no  money,  Isa.  Iv.  1 ;  that  is,  no  confidence  in  their  own 
merits.  Some  divines  say,  that  in  innocency  we  could  not  merit. 
When  the  covenant  did  seem  to  hang  upon  works,  we  could,  in  their 
sense,  impetrare,  but  not  mereri — obtain  by  virtue  of  doing,  but  not 
deserve.  Merit  and  desert  are  improper  notions  to  express  the  rela 
tion  between  the  work  of  a  creature  and  the  reward  of  a  Creator ;  and 
much  more  incongruous  are  they  since  the  fall.  Sin,  bringing  in  a 
contrariness  of  desert,  maketh  mercy  much  more  a  gift ;  so  that  now 
in  every  giving  there  is  somewhat  of.  forgiving,  and  grace  is  the  more 
obliging  because  in  every  blessing  there  is  not  only  bounty,  but  a 
pardon.  It  was  long  since  determined  by  the  schools,  that  penitents 
had  more  reason  to  be  thankful  than  innocents,  sin  giving  an  advantage 
to  mercy  to  be  doubly  free  in  giving  and  pardoning,  and  so  the 
greater  obligation  is  left  upon  us.  Oh !  then,  that  we  were  sensible 
of  this ;  that  in  all  our  actions  our  principle  might  be  a  sense  of  God's 
love,  and  our  end  or  motive  a  sight  of  God's  glory. 

Obs.  3.  That  among  all  the  gifts  of  God,  spiritual  blessings  are  the 

112  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I  17. 

best :  these  are  called  here  good  and  perfect,  because  these  make  us 
good  and  perfect.  It  is  very  observable  that  it  is  said,  Mat.  vii.  11, 
*  If  ye,  being  evil,  know  how  to  give  good  gifts  to  your  children,  much 
more  shall  your  Father  which  is  in  heaven  give  good  things  to  them 
that  ask  him/  Now  in  the  parallel  place  in  Luke  xi.  13,  it  is,  gi^ 
'  the  Holy  Spirit  to  them  that  ask  him ;'  that  is  the  giving  of  good 
gifts,  to  give  the  Holy  Spirit.  Nihil  bomim  sine  summo  bono1 — there 
can  be  nothing  good  where  there  is  not  the  Spirit  of  God :  other 
blessings  are  promiscuously  dispensed;  these  are  blessings  for 
favourites.  The  '  men  of  God's  hand/  Ps.  xvii.  14,  may  have  abun 
dance  of  treasure,  that  is,  violent,  bloody  men ;  but  the  '  men  alter 
God's  heart7  have  abundance  of  the  Spirit.  A  man  may  be  weary  of 
other  gifts ;  an  estate  may  be  a  snare,  life  itself  a  burden  ;  but  you 
never  knew  any  weary  of  spiritual  blessings,  to  whom  grace  or  the  love 
of  God  was  a  burden ;  therefore,  it  is  '  better  than  life,'  Ps.  Ixiii.  3. 
Well,  then,  they  are  profane  spirits  that  prefer  pottage  before  a 
birthright,  vain  delights  before  the  good  and  perfect  gifts.  David 
makes  a  wiser  choice  in  his  prayer,  Ps.  cvi.  4,  '  Eemeniber  me,  0 
Lord,  with  the  favour  that  thou  bearest  unto  thy  people  ;  0  visit  me 
with  thy  salvation/  Not  every  mercy  will  content  David,  but  the 
mercy  of  God's  own  people  ;  not  every  gift,  but  the  good  and  perfect 
gift.  The  like  prayer  is  in  Ps.  cxix.  132,  '  Look  upon  me,  and  be 
merciful  unto  me,  as  thou  usest  to  do  to  those  that  love  thy  name/ 
Mark,  not  the  mercies  that  he  used  to  bestow  upon  the  world,  but 
the  mercies  he  used  to  bestow  upon  his  people  and  favourites.  No 
thing  but  the  best  mercy  will  content  the  best  hearts. 

Obs.  4.  That  God  is  the  Father  of  lights.  Light  being  a  simple 
and  ^ defecate  quality,  and,  of  all  those  which  are  bodily,  most  pure  and 
spiritual,  is  often  put  to  decipher  the  essence  and  glory  of  God,  and 
also  the  essences  and  perfections  of  creatures  as  they  are  from  God. 
The  essence  of  ^Gocl :  1  John  i.  5,  '  God  is  light,  and  there  is  no 
darkness  in  him/  There  light,  being  a  creature  simple  and  unmixed, 
is  put  to  note  the  simplicity  of  the  divine  essence.  So  also  the  glory 

of  God:  '  He  dwelleth  in  light  inaccessible/  1  Tim.  vi.  16  ;  that  is,  in 
inconceivable  glory.  So  Jesus  Christ,  in  regard  he  received  his 
personality  and  subsistence  from  the  Father,  is  called,  in  the  Nicene 
Creed,  </>w?  e/c  (/HUTO?,  #eo?  a\r)6ivos  GK  Oeov  a\r]6lvov,  '  Light  of  light, 
•and  very  God  of  very  God/  So  also  the  creatures,  as  they  derive 
their  perfections  from  God,  are  also  called  lights;  as  the  angels, 
'  Angels  of  light,  2  Cor.  xi.  14;  the  saints,  '  Children  of  light,  '  Luke 
xvi.  8.  Yea,  reasonable  creatures,  as  they  have  wisdom  and  under 
standing,  are  said  to  be  lights ;  so  John  i.  9,  '  This  is  the  light  that 
enlighteneth  every  man  that  cometh  into  the  world  ;'  that  is,  with  the 
light  of  reason :  all  the  candles  in  the  world  are  lighted  at  this  torch. 
In  short,  reason,  wisdom,  holiness,  happiness  are  often  expressed  by 
light,  and  they  are  all  from  God.  As  the  stars  shine  with  a  borrowed 
lustre,  so  do  all  the  creatures  ;  where  you  meet  with  any  brightness 
and  excellency  in  them,  remember  it  is  but  a  streak  and  ray  of  the 
divine  glory.  As  the  star  brought  the  wise  men  to  Christ,  so  should 
all  the  stars  in  the  world  bring  up  your  thoughts  to  God,  who  is 

1  Aug.  lib.  iv.  contra  Jul. 

JAS.  I.  17.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  113 

'the  Fountain  and  Father  of  lights/  Thus  Mat.  v.  16,  'Let  your 
light  so  shine  before  men,  that  they,  seeing  your  good  works,  may 
glorify/  not  you,  but '  your  Father  which  is  in  heaven.'  If  you  see  a 
candle  bum  brightly  and  purely,  remember  it  was  lighted  and  en 
kindled  by  God.  If  there  be  any  light  in  them,  a  sight  and  sense  of 
the  mysteries  of  the  gospel,  if  they  be  'burning  and  shining  lights/  if 
they  give  out  the  flame  of  a  holy  conversation,  still  remember  they 
do  but  discover  that  lustre  and  glory  they  received  from  above. 
Well,  then,  if  God  be  the  Father  of  lights,— 

1.  It  presseth  you  to  a,pply  yourselves  to  God.     If  you  want  the 
light  of  grace,  or  knowledge,  or  comfort,  you  must  shine  in  his  beam 
arid  be  kindled  at  his  flame.     We  are  dark  bodies  till  the  Lord  fill  us 
with  his  own  glory.     Oh !  how  uncomfortable  should  we  be  without 
God.     In  the  night  there  is  nothing  but  terror  and  error ;  and  so  it  is 
in  the  soul  without  the  light  of  the  divine  presence.     When  the  sun 
is  gone  the  herbs  wither  ;  and  when  God,  who  is  the  sun  of  spirits,  is 
withdrawn,  there  is  nothing  but  discomfort  and  a  sad  languishing  in. 
the  soul.     Oh  !  pray,  then,  that  God  would  shine  in  upon  your  soul, 
not  by  flashes,  but  with  a  constant  light.     It  is  too  often  thus  with  us 
in  point  of  comfort  find  grace ;  holy  thoughts  arise,  and,  like  a  flash 
of  lightning,  make  the  room  bright,  but  the  lightning  is  gone,  and  we 
are  as  dark  as  ever.     But  when  God  shineth  in  by  a  constant  light, 
then  shall  we  give  out  the  lustre  of  a  holy  conversation :  Isa.  Ix.  1, 

*  Arise  and  shine  ;  for  thy  light  is  come,  and  the  glory  of  the  Lord  is 
risen  upon  thee.'     We,  like  the  moon,  are  dark  bodies,  and  have  no 
light  rooted  within  ourselves ;  the  Lord  must  arise  upon  us  ere  we 
can  shine.     So  also  in  point  of  comfort :  Ps.  xxxiv.  5,  '  They  looked 
to  him  and  were  lightened ;  their  face  was  not  confounded.' 

2.  It  showeth  the  reason  why  wicked  men  hate  God :    John  iii. 
19-21,  '  Light  is  come  into  the  world,  and  men  love  darkness  rather 
than  light ; '  and  again,  '  They  come  not  to  the  light,  for  their  deeds 
are  evil/     Men  that  delight  in  darkness  cannot  endure  God,  nor  any 
thing   that  representeth  God.      Kachel  could   not   endure   Laban's 
search,  nor  wicked  men  God's  eye.     He  is  the  Father  of  lights ;  he 
hath  a  discerning  eye,  and  a  discovering  beam. 

3.  It  presseth  the  children  of  God  to  walk  in  all  purity  and  innocency : 

*  Ye  are  children  of  light,  walk  in  the  light,'  Eph.  v.  8.     Walk  so 
as  you  may  resemble  the  glory  of  your  Father:  faults  in  you,  like 
spots  in  the  moon,  are  soon  discerned.     You  that  are  the  lights  of 
the  world  should  not  shine  dimly ;  nay,  in  the  worst  times,  like  stars 
in  the  blackest  night,  you  should  shine  brightest ;  therefore  the  apostle 
saith,  Phil.  ii.  15,  '  Shine  as  stars  in  the  midst  of  a  perverse  age.' 

Gbs.  5.  That  the  Lord  is  unchangeable  in  holiness  and  glory ;  he  is 
a  sun  that  shineth  always  with  a  like  brightness.  God,  and  all  that 
is  in  God,  is  unchangeable ;  for  this  is  an  attribute  that,  like  a  silken 
string  through  a  chain  of  pearl,  runneth  through  all  the  rest :  his 
mercy  is  unchangeable,  *  his  mercy  endureth  for  ever/  Ps.  c.  5.  So 
his  strength,  and  therefore  he  is  called  '  The  Eock  of  ages/  Isa.  xxvi. 
4.  So  his  counsel,  Mutat  sententiam,  sed  non  decretum  (as  Bradwar- 
dine)  ;  he  may  change  his  sentence,  the  outward  threatening  or  pro 
mise,  but  not  his  inward  decree;  he  may  will  a  change,  but  not 

VOL.  iv.  H 

114  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  1,  18. 

change  his  will.  So  his  love  is  immutable  ;  his  heart  is  the  same  to  us 
in  the  diversity  of  outward  conditions  :  we  are  changed  in  estate  and 
opinion,  but  God  he  is  not  changed ;  therefore  when  Job  saith,  Job 
xxx.  21,  '  Thou  art  turned  to  be  cruel/  he  speaketh  only  according 
to  his  own  feeling  and  apprehension.  Well,  then, — 

1.  The  more  mutable  you  are,  the  less  you  are  like  God.     Oh ! 
how  should  you  loathe  yourselves  when  you  are  so  fickle  in  your  pur 
poses,  so  changeable  in  your  resolutions !     God  is  immutably  holy, 
but  you  have  a  heart  that  loveth  to  wander.    He  is  always  the  same, 
but  you  are  soon  removed,  Gal.  i.  6  ;  '  soon  shaken  in  mind,'  2  Thes. 
ii.  2 ;  whirried  with  every  blast,  Eph.  iv.  14,  borne  down  with  every 
new  emergency  and  temptation.     The  more  you  do  '  continue  in  the 
good  that  you  have  learned  and  been  assured  of/  2  Tim.  iii.  14,  the 
more  do  you  resemble  the  divine  perfection. 

2.  Go  to  him  to  establish  and  settle  your  spirits.     God,  that  is 
unchangeable  in  himself,  can  bring  you  into  an  immutable  estate  of 
grace,  against  which  all  the  gates  of  hell  cannot  prevail ;  therefore  be 
not  quiet,  till  you  have  gotten  such  gifts  from  him  as  are  without 
repentance,  the  fruits  of  eternal  grace,  and  the  pledges  of  eternal 

3.  Carry  yourselves  to  him  as  unto  an  immutable  good  ;  in  the 
greatest  change  of  things  see  him  always  the  same :  when  there  is 
little  in  the  creature,  there  is  as  much  in  God  as  ever  :  Ps.  cii.  26,  27, 
'  They  shall  perish,  but  thou  shalt  endure ;  they  shall  all  wax  old  as  a 
garment :  thou  art  the  same  for  ever,  and  thy  years  have  no  end/    All 
creatures  vanish,  not  only  like  a  piece  of  cloth,  but  like  a  garment. 
Cloth  would  rot  of  itself,  or  be  eaten  out  by  moths  ;  but  a  garment  is 
worn  and  wasted  every  day.     But  God  doth  not  change  ;  there  is  no 
wrinkle  upon  the  brow  of  eternity  ;  the  arm  of  mercy  is  not  dried  up, 
nor  do  his  bowels  of  love  waste  and  spend  themselves.     And  truly  this 
is  the  church's  comfort  in  the  saddest  condition,  that  however  the  face 
of  the  creatures  be  changed  to  them,  God  will  be  still  the  same.     It  is 
said  somewhere,  that  *  the  name  of  God  is  as  an  ointment  poured  out/ 
Certainly  this  name  of  God's  immutability  is  as  an  ointment  poured  out, 
the  best  cordial  to  refresh  a  fainting  soul.     When  the  Israelites  were 
in  distress,  all  the  letters  of  credence  that  God  would  give  Moses  were 
those,  Exod.  iii.  14,  '  I  am  that  I  am  hath  sent  me  unto  you.'     That 
was  comfort  enough  to  the  Israelites,  that  their  God  remained  in  the 
same  tenor  and  glory  of  the  divine  essence  ;  he  could  still  say  /  A  M. 
With  God  is  no  change,  no  past  or  present ;  he  remaineth  in  the  same 
indivisible  point  of  eternity ;    and  therefore  saith,  I  AM.     So  the 
prophet  Malachi  iii.  6,  eya  Kvpios,  ov/c  7f\\oiwp(u,  '  I  am  the  Lord, 
that  change  not '  (or  am  not  changed)  ;  '  therefore  ye  sons  of  Jacob  are 
not  consumed/    Our  safety  lieth  in  God's  immutability ;  we  cannot 
perish  utterly,  because  he  cannot  change. 

Ver.  18.  Of  his  own  good-will  begat  he  us,  by  the  word  of  truth,  tJiat 
we  should  be  a  kind  of  first-fruits  of  his  creatures. 

The  apostle  showeth  that  his  main  aim  was  to  set  forth  God  as  the 
author  of  spiritual  gifts,  and  therefore  instanceth  in  regeneration. 

Of  his  own  good-will,  /3ov\7]dels. — Because  he  would,  or  being 
willing.  The  word  is  put :—(!.)  To  deny  compulsion  or  necessity  ; 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  115 

God  needed  not  to  save  any;  and  (2.)  To  exclude  merit;  we  could 
not  oblige  him  to  it,  it  was  merely  the  good  pleasure  of  God  ;  for  this 
fiovXrjOels  is  equivalent  to  that  which  Paul  calleth  evbofcla,  the  natural 
bent,  purpose,  and  inclination  of  God's  heart  to  do  the  creatures  good  : 
Eph.  i.  1 1,  it  is  called  '  the  counsel  of  his  will/  and  elsewhere  '  abundant 
mercy ; '  1  Pet.  i.  3,  '  Out  of  his  abundant  mercy  he  hath  begotten  us 
to  a  lively  hope ;;  in  other  places  '  the  pleasure  of  the  Father/ 

Begat  he  us. — A  word  that  properly  importeth  natural  generation, 
and  sometimes  it  is  put  for  creation ;  and  so  as  we  are  men  we  are 
said  to  be  his  761/09,  '  his  offspring/  Acts  xvii.  28  ;  and  indeed  so  some 
take  it  here,  applying  these  words  to  God's  creating  and  forming  us, 
and  making  men  to  be  his  first-fruits,  or  the  choicest  piece  in  the 
whole  creation ;  or,  as  Zoroaster  called  him,  ToX/^porar?;?  T???  (frvcrecos 
ayaXfJia,  the  masterpiece  of  over-daring  nature.  But  this  is  beside 
the  scope ;  for  he  speaketh  of  such  a  begetting  as  is  '  by  the  word 
of  truth/  which,  in  the  next  verse,  he  maketh  to  be  an  argument  of 
more  conscience  and  sense  of  the  duty  of  hearing ;  therefore  begetting 
is  put  to  imply  the  work  of  grace  upon  our  souls.  The  same  metaphor 
is  elsewhere  used  :  1  Peter  i.  23  '  Being  born  again,  not  of  corruptible 
seed,  but  of  incorruptible,  by  the  word  of  God,  which  liveth  for  ever ;' 
so  1  Peter  i.  3,  '  Begotten  to  a  lively  hope.'  I  have  brought  these  two 
places  to  show  you  the  two  parts  in  the  work  of  grace  ;  the  one  is  qua 
regeneramur,  by  which  we  are  begotten,  the  other  qua  renascimur,  by 
which  we  are  born  again;  the  one  is  God's  act  purely,  the  other 
implieth  the  manifestation  of  life  in  ourselves  ;  a  distinction  that 
serveth  to  clear  some  controversies  in  religion  :  but  I  go  on  with  my 

By  the  word  of  truth. — Here  is  the  instrument  noted.  Those  that 
refer  this  verse  to  the  creation,  understand  it  of  Jesus  Christ,  who  is 
the  eternal  uncreated  Word  of  the  Father,  and  by  him  were  all  things 
made ;  see  John  i.  1,  2  ;  Heb.  i.  3,  &c. ;  but  clearly  it  is  meant  of  the 
gospel,  which  is  often  called  '  the  word  of  truth/  and  is  the  ordinary 
means  whereby  God  begetteth  us  to  himself. 

That  we  should  be  a  kind  of  first-fruits  of  his  creatures. — Those  that 
apply  the  verse  to  the  creation  say  the  apostle  meaneth  here  that  man 
was  the  choicest,  chiefest  part  of  it ;  for  all  things  were  subjected 
to  him,  and  put  under  his  feet,  Ps.  viii.  But  I  conceive  it  noteth 
rather  the  dignity  and  prerogative  of  the  regenerate  ;  for  as  it  was  the 
privilege  of  the  first-fruits  of  all  the  sheaves  to  be  consecrated,  so 
believers  and  converts  among  all  men  were  set  aside  for  the  uses  and 
purposes  of  God.  The  first-fruits  of  all  things  were  the  Lord's  : — (1.) 
Partly  to  testify  his  right  in  that  people  ;  (2.)  Partly  for  a  witness  of 
their  thankfulness  ;  they  having  received  all  from  him,  were  to  give  him 
this  acknowledgment :  Prov.  iii.  9,  *  Honour  the  Lord  with  thy  sub 
stance,  and  with  the  first-fruits  of  thy  increase  ;'  this  was  the  honour 
and  homage  they  were  to  do  to  God.  Now  this  is  everywhere  attributed 
to  the  people  of  God ;  as  to  Israel,  because  they  were  God's  peculiar 
people,  called  out  from  all  the  nations  :  Jer.  ii.  3,  '  The  first-fruits  of 
his  increase  is  holiness  to  the  Lord ; '  that  is,  of  all  people  they  were 
dedicated  to  God.  So  the  holy  worshippers,  figured  by  those  virgins 
in  Kev.  xiv.  4,  are  said  to  be  '  redeemed  from  among  men,  to 

116  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  18. 

be  a  first-fruits  unto  God  and  the  Lamb:'  these  were  the  chiefest, 
Christ's  own  portion.  So  the  church  is  called,  Heb.  xii.  23,  '  the  church 
of  the  first-born.'  All  the  world  are  as  common  men;  the  church 
are  the  Lord's. 

The  points  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  which  engaged  God  to  the  work  of  regeneration  was 
merely  his  own  will  and  good  pleasure :  *  Of  his  own  will  begat  he  us;' 
Eom.  ix.  18, '  He  hath  mercy  on  whom  he  will  have  mercy,  and  whom 
he  will  he  hardeneth.'  God's  will  is  the  reason  of  all  his  actions ;  you 
will  find  the  highest  cause  to  be  will,  love,  and  mercy.  God  can  have 
no  higher  motive,  nothing  without  himself,  no  foresight  of  faith  and 
works ;  he  was  merely  inclined  by  his  own  pleasure :  John  xv.  16, 
1  Ye  have  not  chosen  me,  but  I  have  chosen  you ;'  he  begins  with  us 
first.  When  Moses  treateth  of  the  cause  of  God's  love  to  Israel,  he 
assigneth  nothing  but  love :  Dent.  vii.  7,  8,  '  He  loved  you5<  because 
he  loved  you ;'  he  had  no  motive,  and  can  expect  no  satisfaction.  So 
Ps.  xviii.  19,  'He  delivered  me,  because  he  delighted  in  me;'  that 
was  all  the  reason  he  did  it,  because  he  would  do  it.  So  Hosea  xiv. 
4,  ;  I  will  love  them  freely  ;'  there  is  the  spring  and  rise  of  all.  This 
is  applicable  divers  ways  : — (1.)  To  stir  us  up  to  admire  the  mercy  of 
God,  that  nothing  should  incline  and  dispose  his  heart  but  his  own 
will ;  the  same  will  that  begat  us,  passed  by  others :  whom  he  will  he 
saveth,  and  whom  he  will  he  hardeneth.  Man's  thoughts  are  very 
unsober  in  the  inquiry  why  God  should  choose  some  arid  leave  others  : 
when  you  have  done  all,  you  must  rest  in  this  supreme  cause,  God's 
will  and  pleasure :  Mat.  xi.  26,  '  Even  so,  Father,  because  it  pleased 
thee.'  Christ  himself  could  give  no  other  reason,  and  there  is  the 
final  result  of  all  disputes.  Oh  !  admire  God,  all  ye  his  saints,  in  his 
mercy  to  you  ;  this  circumstance  giveth  us  the  purest  apprehensions 
of  the  freeness  of  God's  love,  when  you  see  that  it  was  God's  own  will 
that  determined  mercy  to  you,  and  made  the  difference  between  you 
and  others ;  nay,  in  some  respects,  it  puts  a  difference  between  you 
and  Christ :  evjjuzveia  Trdrpos  a  cnroKTeivei,  aXXot?  ryiyvercu  crwr^p/a,1 
the  good-will  of  the  Father  slayeth  thee,  and  saveth  others;  he 
willed  Christ's  death,  and  your  salvation.  In  the  same  verse,  Christ's 
bruises  and  our  salvation  are  called  chephers,  God's  pleasure :  Isa. 
liii.  10,  '  It  pleased  the  Father  to  bruise  him ; '  and  then,  '  My 
pleasure/  that  is,  in  the  salvation  of  the  elect,  '  shall  prosper  in  his 
hands.'  (2.)  It  informeth  us  the  reason  why,  in  the  work  of  regeneration, 
God  acteth  with  such  liberty :  God  acteth  according  to  his  pleasure ; 
the  Holy  One  of  Israel  must  not  be  limited  and  confined  to  our 
thoughts :  John  iii.  8,  '  The  wind  bloweth  where  it  listeth.'  All  is 
not  done  after  one  tenor,  but  according  to  the  will  of  the  free  Spirit ; 
as,  in  giving  means,  you  must  leave  God  to  his  will :  there  are  mighty 
works  in  Chorazin  and  Bethsaida,  when  there  are  none  in  Tyre  and 
Sidon.  Israel  had  statutes  and  ordinances,  when  all  the  world  had 
nothing  but  the  glimmering  candle  of  their  own  reason.  So  for  the 
work  of  the  Spirit  with  the  means,  some  have  only  the  means,  others 
the  work  of  the  Spirit  with  the  means :  John  xiv.  22,  '  How  is  it  that 

1  Nazianz.  in  bis  Christina  Pctticns. 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  117 

thou  wilt  reveal  thyself  unto  us,  and  not  unto  the  world  ? '  They 
have  choice  revelations.  The  spouse  is  brought  into  the  closet, 
Cant.  i.  3,  when  the  virgins,  common  Christians,  stay  only  in  the 
palace  of  the  great  King.  Do  but  observe  two  places :  Acts  ix.  7,  it 
is  said  of  Paul's  companions,  that  '  they  heard  a  voice/  and  yet,  Acts 
xxii.  9,  it  is  said,  '  They  that  were  with  him  heard  not  the  voice.' 
Solomon  Glassius  reconcileth  these  two  places  thus :  They  heard  a 
sound,  but  they  did  not  hear  it  distinctly  as  Christ's  voice.  Some 
only  hear  the  outward  sound,  the  voice  of  man,  but  not  of  the  Spirit 
in  the  word ;  there  is  a  great  deal  of  difference  in  the  same  auditories. 
So  also  for  the  measure  of  grace  ;  to  some  more  is  given,  to  some  less  ; 
though  all  have  a  vital  influence,  yet  all  have  not  the  same  measure 
of  arbitrary  influences :  Phil.  ii.  13,  'He  giveth  both  to  will  and  to 
do,  Kara  rrjv  evboKiav,  according  to  his  good  pleasure.'  So  for  the 
manner  ;  it  is  very  diverse  and  various.  God  beginneth  with  some  in 
love,  with  others  by  terrors,  'plucking  them  out  of  the  fire.'  Some 
are  gained  by  a  cross  and  affliction,  others  by  a  mercy.  Some  are 
caught  by  a  holy  guile  (as  the  apostle  saith  of  the  Corinthians)  ; 
others  are  brought  in  more  sensibly,  and  with  greater  consternation. 
Upon  some  the  Spirit  cometh  like  a  gentle  blast,  grace  insinuateth 
itself ;  upon  others  like  a  mighty  rushing  wind,  with  greater  terror 
and  enforcement.  So  for  the  time ;  some  are  longer  in  the  birth,  and 
wait  at  the  pool  for  many  years  ;  others  are  surprised  and  gained  of 
a  sudden  :  Cant.  vi.  12,  '  Ere  I  was  aware,  my  soul  made  me  like  the 
chariots  of  Amminadib.'  Therefore  we  should  not  limit  God  to  any 
one  instance,  but  still  wait  upon  him  in  the  use  of  means,  for  his  good 
pleasure  to  our  souls. 

Obs.  2.  That  the  calling  of  a  soul  to  God  is,  as  it  were,  a  new  beget 
ting  and  regeneration.  He  '  begat  us  ; '  there  must  be  a  new  framing 
and  making,  for  all  is  out  of  order,  and  there  is  no  active  influence  and 
concurrence  of  our  will ;  therefore  grace  is  called,  2  Cor.  v.  17,  Kaivrj 
/crtcrt?,  '  a  new  creation  ; '  all  was  a  chaos  and  vast  emptiness  before. 
So  elsewhere  it  is  expressed  by  being  '  born  again,'  John  iii.  5  ;  and 
so  believers  are  called  Christ's  seed,'  Isa.  liii.  10.  The  point  being 
obvious,  I  shall  the  less  stay  on  it.  It  is  useful — (1.)  To  show  us  the 
horrible  defilement  and  depravation  of  our  nature ;  mending  and 
repairing  would  not  serve  the  turn,  but  God  must  new  make  and  new 
create  us,  and  beget  us  again :  like  the  house  infected  with  leprosy, 
scraping  will  not  serve  the  turn  ;  it  must  be  pulled  down,  and  built 
up  again.  They  mince  the  matter  that  say  of  nature  as  those  of  the 
damsel,  '  She  is  not  dead,  but  sleepeth  ; '  as  if  it  were  a  languor  or  a 
swoon  into  which  Adam  and  his  posterity  fell.  No  ;  it  was  a  death, 
and  therefore  are  those  two  notions  of  creation  and  resurrection 
solemnly  consecrated  by  the  Spirit  of  God  to  express  our  regeneration 
or  new  birth.  (2.)  To  show  us  that  we  are  merely  passive  in  our  con 
version  :  it  is  a  begetting,  and  we  (as  the  infant  in  the  womb)  contri 
bute  nothing  to  our  own  forming  :  Ps.  c.  4,  '  It  is  he  that  hath  made 
us,  and  not  we  ourselves ; '  we  had  no  hand  in  it.  (3.)  It  showeth  us 
two  properties  oi  conversion  :  (1st.)  There  will  be  life  ;  the  effect  of 
generation  is  life  Natural  men  are  said,  Eph.  iv.  18,  to  be  '  alienated 
from  the  life  of  God ; '  they  are  altogether  strangers  to  the  motions  and 

118  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  18. 

operations  of  the  Spirit.  But  now,  when  the  soul  is  begotten,  there 
will  be  acting,  and  moving,  and  spiritual  feeling  ;  the  soul  will  not  be 
so  dead  towards  God.  Paul  saith,  G-al.  ii.  20,  '  Not  I  live,  but  Christ 
liveth  in  me.'  A  man  cannot  have  interest  in  Christ,  but  he  will 
receive  life  from  him.  (2d.)  There  will  be  a  change.  At  the  first  God 
bringeth  in  the  holy  frame,  all  the  seeds  of  grace  ;  and  therefore  there 
will  be  a  change  :  of  profane,  carnal,  careless  hearts,  they  are  made 
spiritual,  heavenly,  holy  :  Eph.  v.  8,  '  Ye  were  darkness,  but  now  are 
light  in  the  Lord.'  You  see  there  is  a  vast  difference.  If  men 
remain  the  same,  how  can  they  be  said  to  be  begotten  ?  They  are 
filthy  still,  carnal  still,  worldly  still ;  there  will  be  at  least  a  desolation 
of  the  old  forms  and  frames  of  spirit. 

Obs.  3.  It  is  the  proper  work  of  God  to  beget  us  :  'he  begat.'  It 
is  sometimes  ascribed  to  God  the  Father,  as  here,  and  so,  in  other 
places,  to  God  the  Son  :  believers  are  '  his  seed/  Isa.  liii.  10.  Some 
times  to  the  Spirit,  John  iii.  6.  God  the  Father's  will :  '  Of  his  own 
will  begat  he  us.  God  the  Son's  merit :  through  his  obedience  we 
have  '  the  adoption  of  sons,'  Gal.  iv.  5.  God  the  Spirit's  efficacy  :  by 
his  overshadowing  the  soul  is  the  new  creature  hatched  and  brought 
forth.  It  is  ascribed  to  all  the  three  persons  together  in  one  place  : 
Titus  iii.  5,  6,  '  By  his  mercy  he  hath  saved  us,  through  the  renewing 
of  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  he  shed  on  us  abundantly  through  Jesus 
Christ.'  In  another  place  you  have  two  persons  mentioned  :  Eph.  ii. 
10,  '  For  we  are  his  workmanship,  created  in  Jesus  Christ  unto  good 
works.'  It  is  true,  the  ministers  of  the  gospel  are  said  to  beget,  but 
it  is  as  they  are  instruments  in  God's  hands.  So  Paul  saith,  '  I 
begat  you/  1  Cor.  iv.  15  ;  and  of  Onesimus  he  saith,  '  Whom  I  begat 
in  my  bonds/  Philem.  10.  God  loveth  to  put  his  own  honour  many 
times  upon  the  instruments. 

Well,  then — 1.  Eemove  false  causes.  You  cannot  beget  yourselves, 
that  were  monstrous  ;  you  must  look  up  above  self,  and  above  means, 
to  God,  who  must  form  you  after  his  own  image.  It  is  said,  John  i. 
13,  that  we  are  '  begotten,  not  of  blood,  nor  of  the  will  of  the  flesh, 
nor  the  will  of  man,  but  of  God/  Not  in  the  outward  impure  way 
that  ^is  meant  by  that  '  not  of  blood  ;  nor  by  the  will  of  the  flesh/ 
that  is,  in  the  carnal  manner,  as  man  begetteth  man  to  satisfy  a  fleshly 
will  or  desire  ;  '  nor  of  the  will  of  man/  that  is,  any  workings  or 
desires  of  our  will ;  but  only  by  the  power  of  the  Spirit ;  for  the  intent 
of ^  that  place  is  to  remove  gross  thoughts  and  wrong  causes,  that  we 
might  apprehend  it  right  for  the  nature  of  it,  and  look  up  to  the  right 
cause  of  it. 

2.  It  showeth  what  an  honourable  relation  we  are  invested  with  by 
the  new  birth.  He  begat  us.  God  is  our  Father ;  that  engageth 
his  love,  and  bowels,  and  care,  and  everything  that  can  be  dear  and 
refreshing  to  the  creature:  Mat.  vi.  32,  'Your  heavenly  Father 
knoweth  that  you  have  need  of  these  things.'  This  relation  is  often 
urged  by  the  children  of  God  :  Isa,  Ixiii.  16,  .<  Doubtless  thou  art  our 
Father,  though  Abraham  be  ignorant  of  us/  There  is  comfort  in  a 
father,  much  more  in  a  heavenly  Father.  Evil  men  may  be  good 
fathers,  Mat.  vii.  11  ;  they  cannot  but  obey  those  natural  and 
fatherly  impressions  that  are  upon  their  bowels  ;  how  much  more  will 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  119 

a  good  God  be  a  good  Father  ?  Tarn  pater  nemo,  tampius  nemo  * — 
none  can  be  so  good  and  so  much  a  father  as  he. 

Obs.  4.  The  ordinary  means  whereby  God  begetteth  us  is  the  gospel. 
He  begat  us  '  by  the  word  of  truth  : '  1  Cor.  iv.  15,  '  I  have  be 
gotten  you  in  Jesus  Christ,  through  the  gospel.'  There  is  the  instru 
ment,  the  author,  the  means:  the  instrument,  Paul,  '  I  have  begotten 
you ; '  the  means,  '  by  the  gospel ; '  the  author,  '  in  Jesus  Christ/ 
So  1  Peter  i.  23,  '  Begotten  by  the  incorruptible  seed  of  the  word.' 
The  word  is,  as  it  were,  the  seed,  which,  being  ingrafted  in  the  heart, 
springeth  up  in  obedience :  it  is  by  the  word,  and  that  part  of  the 
word  which  is  properly  called  the  gospel.  Moses  may  bring  us  to  the 
borders,  but  Joshua  leadeth  us  into  the  land  of  Canaan  ;  the  law  may 
prepare  and  make  way,  but  that  which  conveyeth  the  grace  of  con 
version  is  properly  the  gospel.  Well,  then,  let  us  wait  upon  God  in 
the  use  of  the  word :  it  is  not  good  to  balk  the  known  and  ordinary 
ways  of  grace.  Wisdom's  dole  is  given  at  wisdom's  gates  :  Prov. 
viii.  34,  *  Blessed  is  he  that  watcheth  always  at  my  gates.'  It  was  a 
great  advantage  to  the  decrepit  man  to  lie  still  at  the  pool,  John  v. 
God's  means  will  prove  successful  in  God's  time.  Urge  your  souls 
with  the  necessity  of  the  means.  '  Faith  cometh  by  hearing,  and 
hearing  by  the  word  of  God/  Rom.  x.  17.  Without  grace  I  cannot 
be  saved,  without  the  word  I  cannot  have  grace ;  reason  thus  within 
yourselves,  that  you  may  awaken  the  soul  to  a  greater  conscience  and 
sense  of  waiting  upon  God  in  the  word.  It  is  true,  the  divine  grace 
doth  all,  he  begetteth  us  ;  but  remember,  it  is  by  the  word  of  truth. 
The  influences  of  the  heavens  make  fruitful  seasons,  but  yet  plough 
ing  is  necessary.  It  is  one  of  the  sophisms  of  this  age  to  urge  the 
Spirit's  efficacy  as  a  plea  for  the  neglect  of  the  means. 

Obs.  5.  The  gospel  is  a  word  of  truth ;  so  it  is  called,  not  only  in 
this,  but  in  divers  other  places.  See  2  Cor.  vi.  7 ;  Eph.  i.  12 ;  Cpl. 
i.  5 ;  2  Tim.  ii.  15  ;  the  same  expression  is  used  in  all  these  places. 
You  may  constantly  observe,  that  in  matters  evangelical  the  scriptures 
speak  with  the  greatest  averment  and  certainty  ;  the  comfort  of  them  is 
so  rich,  and  the  way  of  them  is  so  wonderful,  that  there  we  are  apt  to 
doubt  most,  and  therefore  there  do  the  scriptures  give  us  the  more 
solemn  assurance ;  as  1  Tim.  i.  15,  '  This  is  a  faithful  saying,  and 
worthy  of  all  acceptation,  that  Jesus  Christ  came  to  save  sinners/  We 
are  apt  to  look  upon  it  as  a  doubtful  thing,  or  at  best  but  as  a 
probable  truth ;  therefore  Paul  prefaceth,  '  This  is  a  faithful  saying/ 
So  Isa.  liii.  4,  '  Surely  he  hath  borne  our  griefs  and  carried  our  sor 
rows.'  Thou  sayest,  surely  I  am  a  sinner;  but  it  is  as  sure  that 
Christ  is  a  Saviour ;  naturally  we  are  more  sensible  and  sure  of  sin 
than  of  the  comforts  of  Christ.  The  apostle  speaketh  of  heathens, 
Eom.  i.  32,  that  they  '  knew  the  judgment  of  God/  and  that  *  they 
that  commit  such  things  are  worthy  of  death/  Natural  conscience 
will  give  us  a  sight  and  sense  of  sin,  but  usually  we  look  upon  gospel 
comforts  with  a  loose  heart  and  doubtful  mind  ;  and  therefore  is  it 
that  the  scripture  useth  such  forms  of  certainty.  Is  it  sure  that  thou 
art  a  sinner  ?  so  sure  is  it  that  he  hath  '  borne  our  sins  and  carried 
our  sorrows/  So  Eev.  xix.  9,  '  Blessed  are  they  which  are  called  to 

1  Tertul.  in  lib.  de  Orat.  Dora. 

120  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  18. 

the  supper  of  the  Lamb  :  these  are  the  true  sayings  of  God/  ^  So 
Kev.  xxii.  6,  when  he  had  spoken  of  the  glory  of  heaven,  he  saith, 
4  These  sayings  are  faithful  and  true/  The  Spirit  of  God  foresaw 
where  we  are  most  apt  to  doubt,  and  therefore  hath  laid  in  such 
solemn  security  (as  the  asseverations  of  God)  aforehand.  Thus 
Christ's  priesthood  is  ushered  in  with  an  oath,  Ps.  ex.  4,  '  The  Lord 
hath  sworn,  Thou  art  a  priest  for  ever,  after  the  order  of  Melchisedec/ 
Points  so  far  above  the  reach  and  apprehension  of  nature  are  hard  to 
be  believed,  therefore  are  they  prefaced  with  deep  asseverations  and 

Use.  The  use  is  to  press  us  to  put  our  seal  to  these  truths,  to 
adventure  our  souls  upon  the  warrant  of  them.  How  strange  is  it 
that  our  hearts  should  be  most  loose  towards  those  points  that  have  a 
special  note  of  truth  and  faithfulness  annexed  to  them  !  Well  may 
it  be  said,  1  John  v.  10,  '  He  that  believeth  not  maketh  God  a  liar ;' 
for  these  things  are  propounded  to  you,  not  only  in  assertions,  but 
asseverations.  He  hath  told  you  they  are  faithful  and  true  sayings  ; 
therefore  you  implicitly  give  God  the  lie  when  you  think  these  things 
are  too  good  to  be  true,  or  carry  yourselves  with  a  carelessness  and  loose 
uncertainty  towards  them,  or,  in  despair,  think  there  cannot  be  com 
fort  for  such  sinners  as  you  are.  This  is  to  lift  up  your  own  sense 
and  experience  against  the  oaths  and  protestations  of  God,  which  are 
everywhere  interlaced  with  the  proposals  of  the  gospel.  Oh  !  do  not 
hang  off.  Bring  up  assent  to  the  greatest  certainty  that  may  be  ; 
check  those  vile  thoughts  which  secretly  lurk  in  all  our  hearts,  that 
the  gospel  is  some  fine  device  and  rare  artifice  to  cheat  the  world, 
some  golden  fancy  to  make  fools  fond  with ;  as  that  profane  pope 
said,  Fabula  Gliristi,  the  fable  of  the  gospel.  Oh  !  consider,  all  the 
wit  of  the  creatures  could  not  contrive  or  design  such  a  plot  and 
frame  of  truths,  so  satisfying  to  the  conscience,  as  the  gospel  is,  and 
therefore  all  assents  that  do  not  amount  and  come  up  to  assurance  are 
beneath  the  dignity  of  it. 

Assents  are  of  divers  kinds  ;  some  are  very  imperfect.  There  is 
conjecture,  which  is  but  a  lighter  inclination  and  propension  of  the 
mind  to  that  which  is  only  probable  ;  it  may  or  may  not  be  true.  This 
is  discerned  by  carelessness  and  disrespect  towards  things  that  are 
excellent ;  men  do  but  guess,  and  have  but  loose  thoughts  of  them. 
Higher  than  this  there  is  opinion,  when  the  mind  is  strongly  swayed 
to  think  a  thing  true,  however  there  isformido  oppositi,  a  fear  of  the 
contrary,  which  is  opposed  to  believing  with  all  the  heart,  Acts  viii. 
This  is  enough  to  engage  to  profession — a  man  followeth  his  opinion. 
The  next  degree  above  this  is  6\t,yo7ncrTLa  ,  '  weak  faith,'  which 
engageth  the  soul  not  only  to  profession,  but  to  some  affection  and 
adherence  to  the  truths  acknowledged  ;  they  look  upon  them  as  true 
and  good,  but  cleave  to  them  with  much  brokenness  and  imperfection. 
Higher  than  this  there  is  assurance ;  I  mean,  of  the  truths  of  the 
gospel,  not  of  our  interest  in  the  comforts  of  it.  This  is  intended  by 
the  apostle  when  he  said  the  Thessalonians  '  received  the  word  with 
much  assurance/  1  Thes.  i.  5  ;  they  were  undoubtedly,  and  beyond 
contradiction,  persuaded  of  the  truths  of  the  gospel.  The  same 
apostle,  Col.  ii.  2,  calleth  it, '  The  riches  of  the  full  assurance  of  under- 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  121 

standing  the  mysteries  of  Christ ; '  that  is,  such  an  apprehension  of 
the  truths  of  the  gospel  as  is  joined  with  some  experience,  and  a 
resolution  to  live  and  die  in  the  profession  of  it. 

Quest.  You  will  say,  How  shall  we  do  to  ripen  our  assents  to  such 
a  perfection?  What  are  those  proper  mediums  or  arguments  by 
which  (next  to  the  infallible  persuasion  of  the  Spirit)  the  soul  is 
assured  that  the  gospel  is  a  word  of  truth  ? 

Ans.  This  question  is  worth  answering  at  all  times,  because  atheism 
is  so  natural  to  us, — if  there  were  none  in  the  world,  yet  there  is  too 
much  of  the  atheist  in  our  own  bosoms, — but  in  these  times  espe 
cially,  the  reigning  sin  being  atheism  and  scepticism  in  matters  of 
religion,  occasioned  partly  by  corrupt  and  blasphemous  doctrines, 
which  have  a  marvellous  compliance  with  our  thoughts ;  partly  by 
the  sad  divisions  among  the  people  of  God.  Every  one  pretending  to 
be  in  the  right,  we  suspect  all ;  therefore  Christ  prayed  for  unity  in 
the  church  upon  this  argument,  '  That  the  world  may  know  that  thou 
hast  sent  me/  Johnxvii.  23.  When  there  are  divisions  in  the  church, 
usually  there  is  atheism  in  the  world:  partly  by  the  scandals  and 
villanies  committed  under  a  pretence  of  religion,  by  which  Christ  is, 
as  it  were,  denied,  Titus  i.  16,  and  again,  'crucified  and  put  to  an 
open  shame/  Heb.  vi.  6 ;  that  is,  exposed  to  the  derision  and  scorn  of 
his  enemies,  and  represented  as  a  malefactor.  Now  if  ever  then,  is 
it  needful  to  ballast  the  mind  with  solid  and  rational  grounds,  and  to 
establish  you  in  the  holy  faith.  Many  arguments  are  urged  by  the 
fathers  and  the  schoolmen  in  behalf  of  the  gospel ;  but  I  have  always 
preferred  the  arguments  of  the  fathers,  as  of  Lactantius,  Tertullian, 
Justin  Martyr,  Cyril,  &c.,  before  those  of  the  schoolmen,  as  being 
more  practical  and  natural,  and  so  having  a  greater  and  a  more  con 
stant  awe  upon  the  conscience ;  whereas  those  of  the  schoolmen  (who 
questionless  were  the  worser  men)  are  more  subtle  and  speculative, 
and  so  less  apt  to  be  understood,  and  are  not  so  always  present  with 
the  soul  as  the  other  are,  that  are  founded  in  practical  truths.  Briefly, 
then,  you  may  know  the  gospel  to  be  a  word  of  truth,  because  what 
ever  is  excellent  in  a  religion  is  in  an  unparalleled  manner  found  in 
our  religion,  or  in  the  doctrine  of  the  gospel.  The  glory  of  a  religion 
lieth  in  three  things — the  excellency  of  rewards,  the  purity  of  precepts, 
and  the  sureness  of  principles  of  trust.  Now  examine  the  gospel  by 
these  things,  and  see  if  it  can  be  matched  elsewhere. 

1.  The  excellency  of  rewards.  This  is  one  of  the  chief est  perfec 
tions  of  a  religion.  Therefore  the  apostle  proposeth  it  a  principle  and 
foundation  of  religion  and  worship  to  '  believe  that  God  is,  and  that  he 
is  a  plentiful  rewarder  of  those  that  seek  him/  Heb.  xi.  6.  He  that 
cometh  to  God,  that  is,  to  engage  in  his  worship,  next  to  his  being 
must  believe  his  bounty  ;  and  the  reason  is,  because  a  man,  in  all  his 
endeavours,  is  poised  to  some  happiness  and  reward.  Now  since  the 
fall  there  are  *  many  inventions/  Eccles.  vii.  29.  As  the  Sodomites, 
when  they  were  smitten  with  blindness,  groped  about  Lot's  door,  so  do 
we  grope  and  feel  here  and  there  for  a  reward  that  may  be  adequate 
and  of  full  proportion  with  our  desires.  The  heathen  were  at  a  sad 
loss  and  puzzle.  Austin,1  out  of  Varro,  reckoneth  up  two  hundred 

1  August,  de  Civit.  Dei,  lib.  xix.  cap.  1. 

122  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  18. 

and  eighty-eight  opinions  about  the  chiefest  good.  Some  placed  it  in 
pleasures,  and  such  things  as  gratified  sense.  But  this  were  to  make 
brutes  of  men,  for  it  is  the  beast's  happiness  to  enjoy  pleasures  without 
remorse ;  and  Tully  saith,  he  is  not  worthy  the  name  of  a  man,  qui 
unum  diem  velit  esse  in  voluptate,  that  would  entirely  spend  one 
whole  day  in  pleasures.  Alas  !  this  is  a  way  so  gross,  so  oppressive, 
and  burthensome  to  nature,  so  full  of  disturbance  and  distraction  to 
reason,  that  it  can  never  satisfy.  Some  went  higher  for  a  reward  for 
virtue,  and  talked  of  victory  over  enemies,  long  life,  and  a  happy  old 
age;  but  many  that  were  good  wanted  these  blessings.  Others 
dreamed  of  a  kind  of  eternity,  and  placed  it  in  fame  and  the  per 
petuity  of  their  name  and  renown,  which  is  a  kind  of  shadow  of  the 
true  eternity ;  but  this  was  a  sorry  happiness  to  those  that  lived  and 
died  obscurely.  Those  that  went  highest  could  go  no  higher  than  the 
exercise  of  virtue,  and  said  that  virtue  was  a  reward  to  itself ;  and 
said  that  a  man  was  happy,  if  virtuous,  in  the  greatest  torments,  in 
Phalaris'  brazen  bull,  &c.  But,  alas !  '  If  our  happiness  were  in  this 
life  only,  we  were  of  all  men  most  miserable/  1  Cor.  xv.  19.  .  Chris 
tianity  would  scarce  make  amends  for  the  trouble  of  it.  But  now  the 
gospel  goeth  higher,  and  propoundeth  a  pure  and  sweet  hope,  most 
pure,  and  fittest  for  such  a  sublime  creature,  a  reasonable  creature,  as 
man  is,  and  most  sweet  and  contenting,  and  that  is  the  eternal  and 
happy  enjoyment  of  God  in  Christ  in  the  life  to  come ;  not  a  Turkish 
paradise,  but  chaste  and  rational  '  pleasures  at  his  right  hand  for  ever 
more/  Ps.  xvi.  11 ;  complete  knowledge,  perfect  love,  the  filling  up 
of  the  soul  with  God;  so  that  the  gospel,  you  see,  hath  outbidden 
all  religions,  propounding  a  fit  and  most  excellent  reward  to  the 
holy  life. 

2.  Purity  of  precepts.  In  the  Christian  religion  all  moral '  duties 
are  advanced  and  heightened  to  their  greatest  perfection  :  Ps.  cxix. 
96,  *  The  commandment  is  exceeding  broad/  of  a  vast  extent  and 
latitude,  comprising  every  motion,  thought,  and  circumstance.  The 
heathens  contented  themselves  with  a  shadow  of  duty.  The  apostle 
saith,  Eom.  ii.  15,  that  epyov  vofjuov,  '  the  work  of  the  law,  was  written 
upon  their  hearts  ; '  that  is,  they  had  a  sense  of  the  outward  work,  and 
a  sight  of  the  surface  of  the  commandment.  They  made  conscience 
to  abstain  from  gross  acts  of  sin,  and  to  perform  outward  acts  of  piety 
and  devotion,  as  sacrifice  and  babbling  of  hymns  and  prayers  to  their 
gods.  All  their  wisdom  was  to  make  the  life  plausible,  to  refrain 
themselves  ;  as  it  is  said  of  Haman,  when  his  heart  boiled  with  rancour 
and  malice  against  Mordecai,  Esther  v.  10,  'Haman  refrained  him 
self.'  So  Lactantius  proveth  against  them  that  they  had  not  a  true 
way  of  mortification,  and  were  not  spiritual  enough  in  their  appre 
hensions  of  the  law :  Sapientia  eorum  plerwnque  abscondit  vitia,  non 
abscindit — all  their  wisdom  was  to  hide  a  lust,  not  to  quench  a  lust ; 
or  rather  to  prevent  the  sin,  not  to  check  the  lust.  But  now  our  holy 
religion  doth  not  only  forbid  sins,  but  lusts :  1  Peter  ii.  11,  '  Dearly 
beloved,  I  beseech  you,  as  strangers  and  pilgrims,  abstain  from  fleshly 
lusts.'  Babylon's  brats  (as  we  showed  before)  by  a  holy  murder  must 
be  dashed  against  the  stones.  The  precepts  are  exact,  commanding 
love,  not  only  to  friends,  but  enemies.  The  law  is  spiritual,  and 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  123 

therefore  in  all  points  perfect :  Ps.  xix.  7,  '  The  law  of  the  Lord  is 
perfect,  converting  the  soul ;'  that  is,  not  only  guiding  the  offices  of  the 
exterior  man,  but  piercing  to  the  thoughts,  the  first  motions  of  the 
heart ;  we  have  a  perfect  law. 

3.  The  sureness  of  the  principles  of  trust.  One  of  the  choicest 
respects  of  the  creature  to  the  Godhead  is  trust  and  dependence.  And 
trust,  being  the  rest  and  quiet  of  the  soul,  must  have  a  sure  bottom 
and  foundation.  Now  stand  upon  the  ways,  and  survey  all  the  reli 
gions  in  the  world,  and  you  will  find  no  foundation  for  trust  but  in 
the  gospel,  refer  it  to  any  object,  trusting  in  God  for  a  common  mercy, 
trusting  in  God  for  a  saving  mercy. 

[1.]  For  a  common  mercy.  There  are  no  such  representations  of 
God  to  the  soul  as  in  the  gospel.  The  Gentiles  had  but  loose  and 
dark  thoughts  of  God,  and  therefore  are  generally  described  by  this 
character,  '  Men  without  hope,'  1  Thes.  iv,  13.  I  remember  when 
our  Saviour  speaketh  against  carking  and  anxiousness  about  outward 
supports,  he  dissuadeth  thus :  '  Take  no  thought  what  ye  shall  eat, 
or  what  ye  shall  drink,  or  what  ye  shall  put  on,  for  after  these  things 
seek  the  Gentiles/  Mat.  vi.  31,  32,  implying  such  solicitude  to  be  only 
excusable  in  heathen  who  had  no  sure  principles ;  but  you  that  know 
providence  and  the  care  of  a  heavenly  Father,  should  not  be  thus 
anxious.  It  is  true,  the  heathens  had  some  sense  of  a  deity ;  they 
had  TO  <yvM(TTov  TOV  <9eoO,  some  knowledge  of  the  nature  of  God,  Bom. 
i.  20 ;  but  the  apostle  saith  in  the  next  verse,  that  '  they  were  vain,  eV 
$La\.oyicrfjLOLs,  in  their  imaginations/  that  is,  in  their  practical  infer 
ences  and  discourses ;  when  they  came  to  represent  God  as  an  object 
of  trust,  and  to  form  practical  thoughts  and  apprehensions  of  his 
majesty,  there  they  were  vain  and  foolish.  But  now  in  the  gospel  God 
is  represented  as  a  fit  object  of  trust,  and  therefore  the  solemn  and 
purest  part  of  Christian  worship  is  faith  ;  and  it  is  judiciously  observed 
by  Luther,  Id  agit  tola  scriptura,  ut  crcdamus  Deum  esse  miseri- 
cordem — it  is  the  design  of  the  whole  scripture  to  bring  the  soul  to 
a  steady  belief  and  trust ;  therefore  the  psalmist,  wrhen  he  speaketh 
of  God's  different  administrations  in  the  world  and  in  the  church, 
when  he  cometh  to  his  administrations  in  the  church,  he  saith,  Ps. 
xciii.  5,  '  The  testimonies  of  the  Lord  are  sure/  God  deals  with  us 
upon  sure  principles,  though  he  hath  discovered  himself  to  the  world 
only  in  loose  attributes. 

[2.]  For  saving  mercies ;  and  indeed  that  is  the  trial  of  all  reli 
gions  ;  that  is  best  which  giveth  the  soul  a  sure  hope  of  salvation : 
Jer.  vi.  16,  God  biddeth  them  '  stand  upon  the  ways,  and  see,  and 
ask  for  the  good  old  way,  and  walk  therein,  and  ye  shall  find  rest  for 
your  souls ; '  intimating,  they  should  choose  that  for  the  best  religion 
which  yieldeth  most  peace  of  conscience.  Now,  there  are  three  things 
that  trouble  the  soul — our  distance  from  God,  our  dread  of  angry  jus 
tice,  and  a  despair  of  retaining  comfort  with  a  sense  of  duty ;  and 
therefore,  ere  the  conscience  can  have  any  solid  rest  and  quiet,  there 
must  be  three  matches  made,  three  couples  brought  together — God  and 
rnaii,  justice  and  mercy,  comfort  and  duty,  all  these  must  mutually 
embrace  and  kiss  each  other. 

(1.)  God  and  man  must  be  brought  together.     Some  of  the  wise 

124  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  18. 

heathens  placed  happiness  in  the  nearest  access  and  approach  to  God 
that  may  be,  as  Plato  for  one  ;  and  Coelius  Rhodiginus,  saith  Aristotle, 
delighted  much  in  that  verse  of  Homer  where  it  is  said  that  it  would 
never  be  well  till  the  gods  and  mortal  men  did  come  to  live  together. 
Certain  we  are  that  common  instinct  maketh  us  to  grope  and  feel 
after  an  eternal  good  :  Acts  xvii.  27,  '  They  groped  after  God/  Now, 
how  shall  we  come  to  have  any  commerce  with  God,  there  being, 
besides  the  distance  of  our  beings,  guilt  contracted  in  the  soul  ?  How 
can  stubble  dwell  with  devouring  burnings  ?  guilty  creatures  think  of 
God  without  trembling  ?  approach  him  without  being  devoured  and 
swallowed  up  of  his  glory  ?  The  heathens  were  sensible  of  this  in 
some  part,  and  therefore  held  that  the  supreme  gods  were  defiled  by 
the  unhallowed  approaches  of  sinful  and  mortal  men,  and  therefore 
invented  heroes  and  half-gods,  a  kind  of  middle  powers,  that  were  to 
be  mediators,  to  convey  their  prayers  to  the  gods,  and  the  blessings  of 
the  gods  back  again  to  them  :  so  Plutarch,  Sia  Sai/jLovtcov  nraaa  6/uX/a 
KOI  SiaheKTos  jjbera^v  Oewv  KOL  avOpwTrwv — that  by  these  intermediate 
powers  there  was  all  commerce  and  communion  between  the  gods  and 
men.  To  this  doctrine  of  the  heathen  the  apostle  alludeth,  1  Cor. 
viii.  5  ;  the  heathens  had  '  lords  many,  and  gods  many  ; '  as  they  had 
many  gods,  many  ultimate  objects  of  worship,  so  many  lords,  that  is, 
mediators.  '  But  to  us  (saith  he)  there  is  but  one  Lord,  and  one 
God ; '  that  is,  one  supreme  essence  and  one  Mediator,  which  is  that 
excellent  and  sure  way  which  the  scriptures  lay  down  for  our  com 
merce  with  God.  The  device  of  the  heathens,  being  fabulous  and 
absurd,  could  not  yield  comfort ;  but  in  the  gospel  there  is  excellent 
provision  made  for  our  comfort  and  hope,  for  there  the  Godhead  and 
manhood  is  represented  as  met  in  one  nature.  The  Son  of  God  was 
made  the  Son  of  man,  that  the  sons  of  men  might  be  the  sons  of  God  ; 
therefore  the  apostle  Peter  showeth  that  the  great  work  of  Christ 
was  '  to  bring  us  to  God,'  1  Peter  iii.  18,  to  bring  God  and  man 
together.  So  the  apostle  Paul  saith,  Heb  x.  20,  we  may  '  draw 
near  through  the  veil  of  his  flesh.'  It  is  an  allusion  to  the  temple, 
where  the  veil  hid  the  glory  of  the  sanctum  sanctorum,  and  gave 
entrance  to  it.  So  Christ's  incarnation  did,  as  it  were,  rebate  the 
edge  of  the  divine  glory  and  brightness,  that  creatures  may  come  and 
converse  with  it  without  terror.  Christ  is  the  true  Jacob's  ladder, 
John  i.  51,  the  bottom  of  which  toucheth  earth — there  is  his 
humanity ;  and  the  top  reacheth  heaven — there  is  his  divinity ;  so 
that  we  may  climb  this  ladder,  and  have  communion  with  God: 
ascende  per  hominem  et  pervenies  ad  Deum,  as  that  father  said — 
climbing  up  in  hope  by  the  manhood  of  Christ,  we  have  social  access 
to  the  Godhead. 

(2.)  Justice  and  mercy  must  be  brought  together.  We  want  mercy, 
and  fear  justice ;  guilt  impresseth  a  trembling  upon  the  spirit,  be 
cause  we  know  not  how  to  redeem  our  souls  out  of  the  hands  of  angry 
justice;  the  very  heathens  were  under  this  bondage  and  torment, 
because  of  the  severity  of  the  divine  justice  :  '  Knowing  the  judgment 
of  God,  they  thought  themselves  worthy  of  death,'  Bom.  i.  32.  There- 
fore^  the  great  inquiry  of  nature  is,  how  we  shall  appease  angry 
justice.,  and  redeem  our  souls  from  this  fear.  You  know  the  question, 

JAS.  I.  18.J  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  125 

Micah  vi.  6,  7,  '  Wherewith  shall  I  come  before  him  ?  and  wherewith 
will  he  be  pleased  ?  '  The  heathens,  in  their  blindness,  thought  to 
oblige  the  Godhead  by  acts  meritorious  (as  merit  is  natural),  either 
by  costly  sacrifices,  '  rivers  of  oil,  thousands  of  rams,  burnt-offerings, 
and  whole  burnt-offerings/  hecatombs  of  sacrifices ;  or  by  putting  them 
selves  to  pains  or  tortures,  as  Baal's  priests  gashed  themselves  ;  or  by 
doing  some  act  that  is  unwelcome  and  displeasant  to  nature,  as  by 
offering  their  children  in  sacrifices,  those  dear  pledges  of  affection, 
which  certainly  was  an  act  of  great  self-denial,  natural  love  being 
descensive,  and  like  a  river  running  downward ;  yea,  this  was  not  all, 
the  best  of  their  children,  their  first-born,  in  whom  all  their  hopes 
were  laid  up,  they  being  observed  to  be  most  fortunate  and  successful. 
And  this  custom  also  the  carnal  Jews  took  up,  for  bare  outward  sacri 
fice  was  but  a  dull  way  either  to  satisfy  God  (his  being  '  the  cattle  of 
a  thousand  hills/  Ps.  1.  10),  or  to  pacify  conscience;  for  though  it 
were  a  worship  of  God's  own  appointing,  yet  it  '  did  not  make  the 
comer  thereunto  perfect,  as  appertaining  to  the  conscience/  Heb.  ix. 
9  ;  that  is,  the  worshipper  that  looked  no  further  could  never  have  a 
quiet  and  perfect  conscience,  and  therefore  they  '  caused  their  children 
to  pass  through  the  fire  to  Moloch.'  Such  a  barbarous  custom  could 
not  be  taken  up  barely  by  imitation  ;  nothing  but  horror  of  conscience 
could  tempt  men  to  an  act  so  cruel  and  unnatural ;  and  the  prophet 
plainly  saith,  they  '  gave  their  first-born  for  the  sin  of  their  soul.' 
Thus  you  see  all  ways  are  at  a  loss,  because  they  could  not  yield  a 
recompense  to  offended  justice.  But,  in  the  gospel,  'justice  and 
mercy  have  kissed  each  other,  righteousness  and  truth  have  met 
together,'  as  it  is  Ps.  Ixxxv.  10.  And  we  may  sing,  '  Gracious  is  the 
Lord,  and  righteous,'  Ps.  cxvi.  5  ;  'Our  beloved  is  white  and  ruddy,' 
Cant.  v.  10.  For  there  is  a  God  satisfying  as  well  as  a  God  offended,  so 
that  mercy  and  justice  shine  with  an  equal  lustre  and  glory  ;  yea, 
justice,  which  is  the  terror  of  the  world,  in  Christ  is  made  our  friend, 
and  the  chief  ground  of  our  hope  and  support ;  as  1  John  i.  9,  '  The 
Lord  is  faithful  and  righteous  to  forgive  us  our  sins.'  A  man  would 
have  thought  faithful  and  gracious  had  been  a  more  proper  term  than 
faithful  and  righteous,  pardon  being  most  properly  an  act  of  free 
grace ;  but  justice  being  satisfied  in  Christ,  it  is  no  derogation  to  his 
righteousness  to  dispense  a  pardon.  So  the  crown  of  glory  is  called  '  a 
crown  of  righteousness/  2  Tim.  iv.  8.  There  is  a  whole  vein  of 
scriptures  runneth  that  way,  that  make  all  the  comfort  and  hope  of  a 
Christian  to  hang  upon  God's  righteousness  ;  yea,  if  you  will  believe  the 
apostle  Paul,  you  shall  see  that  God's  great  intent  in  appointing 
Christ,  rather  than  any  other  Kedeemer,  was  to  show  himself  just  in 
pardoning,  and  that  he  might  be  kind  to  sinners  without  any  wrong 
to  his  righteousness;  in  short,  that  justice  being  satisfied,  mercy 
might  have  the  freer  course.  Hear  the  apostle,  and  you  shall  see 
he  speaketh  full  to  this  purpose  :  Rom.  iii.  25,  26,  '  Whom  God  hath 
set  forth  to  be  a  propitiation  through  faith  in  his  blood,  to  declare  his 
righteousness  in  the  remission  of  sins.'  And  lest  we  should  lose  the 
emphatical  word,  he  redoubleth  it :  'To  declare,  I  say,  his  righteous 
ness,  and  that  he  might  be  just,  and  the  justifier  of  him  that  belie veth 
in  Jesus  : '  that  is,  in  the  matter  of  justification,  where  grace  is  most 

126  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  .         [JAS.  I.  18, 

free,  God  makes  his  righteousness  shine  forth,  having  received  satis 
faction  from  Christ. 

(3.)  Comfort  and  duty  are  brought  together.  The  end  of  all  reli 
gion  is  ut  anima  sit  subjecta  Deo  et  pacata  sibi — that  the  soul  may 
be  quiet  in  itself,  and  obedient  to  that  which  is  supposed  to  be  God. 
Now  how  shall  we  do  to  retain  a  care  of  duty  with  a  sense  of  comfort  ? 
Conscience  cannot  be  stifled  with  loose  principles.  The  heathens 
could  not  be  quiet,  and  therefore,  when  their  reason  was  discomposed 
and  disturbed  with  the  rage  of  sensual  lusts,  and  they  knew  not  how 
to  bridle  them,  they  offered  violence  to  nature  ;  pulled  out  their  eyes, 
because  they  could  not  look  upon  a  woman  without  lusting  after  her  ; 
and  raged  against  their  innocent  members,  instead  of  their  unclean 
affections.  And  we,  that  have  the  light  of  Christianity,  know  much 
more  that  we  cannot  have  comfort  without  duty;  for  though  true 
peace  of  conscience  be  founded  in  Christ's  satisfaction,  yet  it  is  found 
only  in  his  service :  Mat.  xi.  28,  '  Come  to  me,  and  I  will  give  you 
rest;'  but  in  ver.  29  it  is,  'Take  my  yoke  upon  you,  and  ye  shall 
find  rest  for  your  souls/  As  we  must  come  to  Christ  for  comfort,  so 
we  must  stay  under  his  discipline,  if  we  would  have  a  sense  of  it  in 
our  own  souls.  Well,  now,  you  shall  see  how  excellently  these  are 
provided  for  in  the  gospel.  There  is  Spirit  against  weaknesses,  and 
merit  against  defects  and  failings,  so  that  duty  is  provided  for,  and 
comfort.  They  need  not  despair  under  weaknesses,  having  the  assist 
ance  of  a  mighty  Spirit ;  they  need  not  put  out  their  eyes,  having  a 
God  to  quench  their  lusts  ;  *  they  need  not  despair  under  the  sense 
of  their  defects,  there  being  such  a  full  merit  in  the  obedience  of 
Christ.  In  short,  when  they  have  largest  thoughts  of  duty,  they 
may  have  sweetest  hopes  of  comfort,  and  say,  with  David,  fs.  cxix. 
6,  '  I  shall  not  be  ashamed  when  I  have  respect  to  all  thy  command 

So  much  for  the  fifth  observation. 

Obs.  6.  That  God's  children  are  his  first-fruits.  The  word  hinteth 
two  things — their  dignity  and  their  duty ;  which  two  considerations 
will  draw  out  the  force  of  the  apostle's  expression. 

1.  It  noteth  the  dignity  of  the  people  of  God  in  two  regards  : — (1.) 
One  is,  they  are  '  the  Lord's  portion/  Xao?  Treptoi/o-to?,  his  '  peculiar 
people/  Titus  ii.  14,  the  treasure  people,  the  people  God  looketh  after. 
The  world  are  his  goods,  but  you  his  treasure.  The  word  /crLo-^drwi'  in 
the  emphatical.  Others  are  but  his  creatures,  you  his  first-fruits. 
He  delighteth  to  be  called  your  God ;  he  hath,  as  it  were,  impropriated 
himself  to  your  use  and  comfort :  '  Blessed  is  the  people  whose  God  is 
the  Lord/  Ps.  cxliv.  15.  He  is  Lord  of  all,  but  your  God.  One  said, 
Tolle  meum  et  tolle  Deum—it  is  the  relation  to  God  that  is  sweet,  and 
a  general  relation  yieldeth  no  comfort.  Oh  !  what  a  mighty  instance 
is  this  of  the  love  of  God  to  us,  that  he  should  reckon  us  for  his  first- 
fruits,  for  his  own  lot  and  portion !  (2.)  That  they  are  the  consider 
able  part  of  the  world.  The  first-fruits  were  offered  for  the  blessing 
of  all  the  rest :  Prov.  iii.  10,  *  Offer  thy  first-fruits,  and  so  thy  barns 

1 '  Democritus  excaecavit  seipsum  quod  mulieres  sine  concupiscentia  aspicere  non  posset, 
et  doleret  si  non  esset  potitus  :  at  Christianus  salvis  oculis  fceniinam  videt ;  animo  ad- 
versus  libidinem  csecus  est.' — Tertul.  in  Apol.,  cap.  46. 

JAS.  I.  18.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  127 

shall  be  filled  with  plenty,  and  thy  presses  shall  burst  out  with  wine.' 
So  here  ;  the  children  of  God,  they  are  the  '  blessing  in  the  cluster  ;' 
others  fare  the  better  for  their  neighbourhood ;  they  are  the  strength, 
the  '  chariots  and  horsemen'  of  a  nation.  It  was  a  profane  suggestion 
in  Haman  to  say,  '  It  was  not  for  the  king's  profit  to  suffer  them  to 
live.'  These  are  the  first-fruits  that  God  taketh  in  lieu  of  a  whole 
nation,  to  convey  a  blessing  to  the  rest. 

2.  It  hinteth  duty  ;  as — (1.)  Thankfulness  in  all  their  lives.  First- 
fruits  were  dedicated  to  God  in  token  of  thankfulness.  Cain  is  im 
plicitly  branded  for  unthankfulness  because  he  did  not  offer  the  first- 
fruits.  You,  that  are  the  first-fruits  of  God,  should,  in  a  sense  of  his 
mercy,  live  the  life  of  love  and  praise.  The  apostle  saith  the  mercies 
of  God  should  persuade  us  to  offer  ourselves,  Eom.  xii.  1.  Now, 
under  the  gospel,  there  are  no  sin-offerings,  all  are  thank-offerings. 
Well,  then,  give  up  yourselves  in  a  reasonable  way,  'X.oyiKrj  Xarpeta,  of 
sacrifice.  It  is  but  reason  that  when  God  hath  begotten  us  we  should 
be  his  first-fruits.  The  principle  and  motive  of  obedience  under  the 
gospel  is  not  terror,  but  gratitude :  Luke  i.  74,  '  That  we,  being 
delivered  out  of  the  hands  of  our  enemies,  should  serve  him  without 
fear/  &c.  Your  lives  should  show  you  to  be  first-fruits,  to  be  yielded 
to  God  as  a  testimony  of  thankfulness.  (2.)  It  noteth  holiness.  The 
first-fruits  were  holy  unto  the  Lord.  God's  portion  must  be  holy; 
and  therefore  of  things  that  were  in  their  own  nature  an  abomination 
the  first-fruits  were  not  to  be  offered  to  God,  as  the  first-born  of  a 
dog  or  ass,  but  were  to  be  redeemed  with  money.  God  can  brook  no 
unclean  thing.  Sins  in  you  are  far  more  irksome  and  grievous  to  his 
Spirit  than  in  others.  You  shall  see,  Jer.  xxxii.  30,  it  is  said,  '  The 
children  of  Israel  and  Judah  have  only  done  evil  before  me  from  their 
youth.'  The  Septuagint  read,  ILQVQI  Troiovwres  rr]v  a/jbapriav^  '  they 
alone,  or  they  only,  have  been  sinners  before  me  ;'  as  if  God  did  not  take 
notice  of  the  sins  of  other  nations :  Israel,  God's  portion,  are  the  only 
sinners.  (3.)  It  noteth  consecration.  You  are  dedicate  things,  and 
they  must  not  be  alienated  ;  your  time,  parts,  strength,  and  concern 
ments,  all  is  the  Lord's  ;  you  cannot  dispose  of  them  as  you  please,  but 
as  it  may  make  for  the  Lord's  glory ;  you  are  not  first-fruits  when  you 
'seek  your  own  things  ;'  you  are  not  to  walk  in  your  own  ways,  nor 
to  your  own  ends ;  you  may  do  with  your  own  as  it  pleaseth  you,  but  you 
cannot  do  so  with  what  is  the  Lord's.  First-fruits  were  passed  over 
into  the  right  of  God,  the  owner  had  no  property  in  them.  Well, 
then: — (1st.)  You  are  not  to  walk  in  your  own  ways;  your  desires 
and  wills  are  not  to  guide  you,  but  the  will  of  God.  '  There  is  a  way 
(saith  Solomon)  that  seemeth  right  in  a  man's  own  eyes;'  a  corrupt 
mind  looketh  upon  it  as  good  and  pleasant,  and  a  corrupt  will  and 
desire  is  ready  to  run  out  after  it.  So  the  prophet  Isaiah,  chap.  liii.  6, 
1  We  are  all  gone  astray,  every  man  to  his  own  way.'  Oh  !  remember 
you  are  to  study  the  mind  and  will  of  God ;  your  own  inventions  will 
seduce  you,  and  your  own  affections  will  betray  you.  (2d.)  Not  to 
your  own  ends  :  2  Cor.  v.  15,  '  Henceforth  we  are  no  more  to  live  to 
ourselves/  to  our  pleasure,  profit,  honour,  interests :  we  have  no  right 
and  property  in  ourselves,  it  is  all  given  up  to  God.  Those  that  gave 
up  all  to  God  did  not  reserve  a  liberty  for  self-pursuits  and  self- 

128  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I  19. 

interests.1  All  pleasures,  honours,  profits,  are  to  be  refused  or  received 
as  they  make  us  serviceable  to  the  glory  of  God. 

Ver.  19.  Wherefore,  my  Moved  brethren,  let  every  man  be  swift  to 
hear,  slow  to  speak,  slow  to  wrath. 

Wherefore,  my  beloved  brethren,  &c. — You  see  these  words  are  in 
ferred  out  of  the  former.  The  apostle  saith,  ivherefore.  Some  make 
the  consequence  thus:  He  hath  begotten  you,  therefore  walk  as  men 
regenerate ;  for  they  make  these  sentences  to  be  of  a  general  concern 
ment,  and  take  them  in  the  largest  sense  and  extent  of  them.  But 
this  seemeth  harsh,  partly  because  it  is  not  the  use  of  the  gospel  to 
descend  to  such  low  civilities  as  the  ordering  of  speech  and  the  like  ; 
much  less  would  it  urge  such  a  weighty  argument  as  regeneration  in 
a  matter  of  such  common  importance ;  and  indeed  the  inference  in 
that  sense  is  no  way  clear,  and  it  would  be  a  great  gap  and  stride  to 
descend  from  such  a  weighty  and  spiritual  matter  to  mere  rules  of 
civility:  partly  because  the  subsequent  context  showeth  these  sen 
tences  must  be  restrained  to  the  matter  in  hand ;  for,  ver.  21,  he  sub- 
inferreth  out  of  these  sayings  an  exhortation  to  hear  the  word  rightly ; 
therefore  I  conceive  the  connection  to  stand  thus :  He  had  spoken  of 
the  word  of  truth  as  being  the  instrument  of  conversion,  and  upon 
that  ground  persuadeth  to  diligent  hearing  and  reverent  speaking  of 
it ;  for  so  these  sentences  must  be  restrained,  and  then  the  coherence 
is  more  fluent  and  easy,  as  thus :  You  see  what  an  honour  God  hath 
put  on  the  word,  as  by  it  to  beget  us  to  himself ;  therefore  '  be  swift 
to  hear,'  that  is,  of  a  docile  or  teachable  mind,  be  ready  still  to  wait 
upon  God  in  the  word ;  be  '  slow  to  speak/  that  is,  do  not  rashly 
precipitate  your  judgment  or  opinion  concerning  things  of  faith ;  be 
'  slow  to  wrath/  that  is,  be  not  angrily  prejudiced  against  those  that 
seem  to  differ  and  dissent  from  you.  Thus  you  see,  if  we  con 
sider  these  directions  under  a  special  reference  to  the  matter  in  hand, 
the  context  is  easy.  I  confess  it  is  good  to  give  scripture  its  full  lati 
tude  in  application,  and  therefore  rules  may  be  commodiously  extended 
to  repress  the  disorders  of  private  conversation,  as  garrulity,  when  men 
are  full  of  talk  themselves,  and  morosity,  when  they  cannot  endure  to 
hear  others,  and  so  also  anger  and  private  revenge ;  especially  when 
any  of  these  is  found,  as  usually  they  are,  in  Christian  meetings  and 
conventions,  little  patience,  and  much  talk  and  anger.  But  the  chief 
aim  of  the  apostle  is  to  direct  them  in  the  solemn  hearing  of  the  word. 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  From  that  ivherefore.  It  is  a  great  encouragement  to  wait 
upon  the  ordinances,  when  we  consider  the  benefits  God  doth  dispense 
by  them.  In  the  institution  of  every  duty  there  is  a  word  of  com 
mand  and  a  word  of  promise.  The  command  for  our  warrant,  the 
promise  for  our  encouragement.  The  command  that  we  may  come 
in  obedience,  and  the  promise  that  we  may  come  in  faith.  Thus  it  is 
said,  Isa.  Iv.  3,  '  Hear,  and  your  soul  shall  live.'  Hear,  that  is  the 
command.  Your  soul  shall  live,  there  is  the  promise.  It  is  God's 
mercy  that  no  duty  is  a  mere  task,  but  a  holy  means ;  and  ordinances 
are  appointed,  not  only  in  sovereignty,  but  in  mercy.  Well,  then, 
Christians  are  not  only  to  look  to  the  ground  of  duties,  but  the  end  of 

1  '  Nesciunt  suis  parcere  qtii  nihil  simm  norunt.' — Ambros. 

JAS.  I.  19.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  129 

them,  that  sweeteneth  them  to  us.  God  hath  required  nothing  of  you 
but  for  your  own  benefit :  Prov.  ix.  12,  '  If  thou  be  wise,  thou  shalt  be 
wise  for  thyself.'  God  hath  glory  in  your  approaches,  but  you  have 
comfort.  Oh  !  consider,  then,  every  time  you  come  to  hear  the  word, 
the  high  privileges  you  may  enjoy  by  it !  Say  thus,  when  you  come 
to  hear :  I  am  to  hear  that  my  soul  may  live,  I  am  going  to  the  word 
that  is  to  beget  me,  to  make  my  soul  partaker  of  the  divine  nature. 
Christians  do  not  raise  their  expectations  to  such  a  height  of  mercies 
as  are  offered  to  them  in  the  ordinances. 

Obs.  2.  Again,  from  the  illative  particle  ivJierefore.  Experience 
of  the  success  of  ordinances  engageth  us  to  a  further  attendance 
upon  them.  He  hath  begotten  you  by  the  word  of  truth,  '  where 
fore,  be  swift  to  hear.'  Who  would  baulk  a  way  in  which  he  hath 
found  good,  and  discontinue  duty  when  he  hath  found  the  benefit  of 
it  ?  When  God  hath  given  you  success,  he  hath  given  you  a  seal  of 
his  truth,  a  real  experience  of  the  comforts  of  his  service.  The  Stan- 
carists,1  that  think  ordinances  useless  for  believers,  fit  to  initiate  us 
in  religion,  and  no  further,  are  ignorant  of  the  nature  of  grace,  the 
state  of  their  own  hearts,  and  the  ends  of  the  word.  Because  this 
proud  sect  is  revived  in  our  times,  and  man}r,  as  soon  as  they  have 
found  the  benefit  of  ordinances,  think  they  are  above  them,  let  us  a 
little  examine  these  particulars. 

1.  They  are  ignorant  of  the  nature  of  grace,  which  always  upon  a 
taste  longeth  for  more:  Ps.  Ixiii.  1,  2,  '  I  long  to  see  thy  power  and 
glory,  as  I  have  seen  thee  in  the  sanctuary.'     When  the  springs  lie 
low,  a  little  water  cast  in  bringeth  up  more :  so,  after  a  taste,  grace 
longeth  for  more  communion  with  God ;  they  would  see  God  as  they 
have  seen  him :  so  the  apostle,  1  Peter  ii.  3,  4,  '  If  ye  have  tasted  that 
he  is  gracious,  come  to  him  as  to  a  living  stone  ; '  that  is,  if  you  have 
had  any  taste  and  experience  of  Christ  in  the  word   (which  is  the 
case  in  the  context),  you  will  be  coming  to  him  for  more.     However 
it  is  with  spiritual  pride,  grace  is  quickened  by  former  success  and 
experience,  not  blunted. 

2.  They  are  ignorant  of  the  intent  and  end  of  the  word,  which  is 
not  only  to  beget  us,  but  to  make  the  saints  perfect,  Eph.  iv.  12,  13. 
The  apostles,  when  they  had  established  churches,  returned  to  '  confirm 
the  disciples'  hearts,'  Acts  xiv.  22.     We  are  to  look  after  growth,  as 
well  as  truth.     Now,  lest  you  should  think  it  only  concerneth  the 
new-born  babes,  or  the  weaker  sort  of  Christians,  you  shall  see  those 
of  the  highest  form  found  need  to  exercise  themselves  herein :  the 
prophets  '  searched  diligently '  into  the  writings  of  other  prophets,  1 
Peter  i.  11,  12.     Daniel  himself,  though  a  prophet,  and  a  prophet  of 
high  visions,_  studied  books,  Dan.  ix.  2.     And  still  the  greatest  have 
need  of  praying,  meditating,  reading,  hearing,  to  preserve  the  work  of 
grace  that  is  begun  in  their  souls.     That  place  is  notable,  Luke  viii. 
18,  '  Take  heed  how  you  hear  ;  for  whosoever  hath,  to  him  shall  be 
given  ;  and  whosoever  hath  not,  from  him  shall  be  taken  that  which 
he  seemeth  to  have/     Our  Saviour  upon  this  ground  presseth  them  to 
a  greater  conscience  and  sense  of  the  duty  of  hearing,  because  those 

1  From  Stancaras,  a  professor  at  Konigsberg,  and  afterwards  in  Poland,  where  he  died 
in  1574.— ED. 

VOL.  IV.  I 

130  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,        [JAS.  I.  19. 

tliat  have  grace  already  will  have  further  confirmation  and  increase  ; 
and  those  that,  upon  a  presumption  and  pretence  of  having  grace, 
neglect  the  means  of  grace,  shall  lose  that  which  they  seemed  to  have  ; 
that  is,  shall  appear  to  be  just  nothing  in  religion,  blasted  in  gifts,  as 
well  as  decayed  in  grace. 

3.  They  are  ignorant  of  the  state  of  their  own  hearts.  Are  there 
no  graces  to  be  perfected  and  increased  ?  no  corruptions  to  be  morti 
fied  ?  no  good  resolutions  to  be  strengthened  ?  no  affections  to  be 
quickened  and  stirred  up  ?  Is  there  no  decay  of  vigour  and  liveli 
hood  ?  no  deadness  growing  upon  their  spirits  ?  Certainly  none  need 
ordinances  so  much  as  they  that  do  not  need  them.  The  spirit  is  a 
tender  thing,  soon  discomposed.  Things  that  are  most  delicate  are 
most  dependent.  Brambles  grow  of  themselves,  but  the  vine  needeth 
props.  Wolves  and  dogs  can  rummage  and  seek  abroad  in  the  wilder 
ness,  but  the  sheep  need  a  pastor.  They  that  look  into  their  hearts 
would  find  a  double  need  of  ordinances.  (1.)  Knowledge  is  imperfect. 
It  is  some  good  degree  of  knowledge  to  be  sensible  of  our  own  ignor 
ance  ;  none  so  proud  and  contented  as  they  that  know  least :  1  Cor. 
viii.  2,  'If  any  man  thinketh  he  knoweth  anything,  he  knoweth 
nothing  as  he  ought  to  know.'  At  first  truths  seem  few,  and  soon 
learned ;  and  it  is  some  good  progress  in  any  learning  to  be  sensible 
and  humbled  with  the  imperfections  of  knowledge ;  and  it  is  so  in 
divine  matters.  We  see  little  in  the  word  till  we  come  to  be  more 
deeply  acquainted  with  it :  and  then,  Ps.  cxix.  18,  '  Open  mine  eyes, 
that  I  may  see  wonders  in  thy  law  ; '  then  we  come  to  discern  depths, 
and  such  wisdom  as  we  never  thought  of.  The  word  is  an  ocean, 
without  bottom  and  banks.  A  man  may  see  an  end  of  other  things, 
and  get  the  mastery  over  an  art :  'I  have  seen  an  end  of  all  perfec 
tion,  but  thy  commandment  is  exceeding  broad,'  Ps.  cxix.  96.  We 
can  never  exhaust  all  the  treasure  and  worth  that  is  in  the  word.  (2.) 
Affections  need  a  new  excitement.  Commands  must  be  repeated  to  a 
dull  servant ;  such  is  our  will.  We  need  fresh  enforcements  of  duty 
upon  us.  Live  coals  need  blowing,  and  a  good  soldier  the  trumpet 
to  stir  up  his  warlike  rage,  1  Cor.  xiv.  31.  All  may  learn,  or  all  be 
comforted.  The  apostle  there  specifieth  the  two  ends  of  prophecy, 
which  is  either  that  we  may  learn,  or  be  comforted,  or  exhorted  ;  the 
word  is  indifferent  to  both  those  significations,  either  the  improving  of 
knowledge,  or  the  exciting  of  languishing  affections. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  let  every  one.  This  is  a  duty  that  is  universal, 
and  bindeth  all  men.  None  are  exempted  from  hearing  and  patient 
learning :  '  the  eye  hath  need  of  the  foot.'  Those  that  know  most 
may  learn  more.  Junius  was  converted  by  discourse  with  a  plough 
man.  A  simple  laic  (as  the  story *  calleth  him)  turned  the  whole 
Council  of  Nice  against  Arianism.  G-od  may  make  use  of  the  meanest 
things  for  the  instruction  of  the  greatest.  Paul,  the  great  apostle, 
calleth  Priscilla  and  Persis,  two  women,  his  '  fellow-helpers  in  the 
Lord/  Kom.  xvi.  Torches  are  many  times  lighted  at  a  candle,  and 
the  most  glorious  saints  advantaged  by  the  meanest.  Christ  would 
teach  his  disciples  by  a  child  :  '  He  took  a  child,  and  set  him  in  the 
midst  of  them/  Mat.  xviii.  2.  It  is  proud  disdain  to  scorn  the 

1  Socrates  Scholast.,  lib.  ii.,  Eccles.  Hist.,  cap.  8. 

JAS.  I.  19.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  131 

meanest  gifts.  There  may  be  gold  in  an  earthen  vessel.  There  is  none 
too  old,  none  too  wise,  none  too  high  to  be  taught.1  Let  every  one. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  be  swift,  that  is,  ready.  The  commendation  of 
duties  is  the  ready  discharge  of  them.  Swiftness  noteth  two  things  : — 
(1.)  Freeness  of  spirit ;  do  it  without  reluctancy  when  you  do  it ;  no 
offerings  are  accepted  of  God  but  such  as  are  free-will  offerings,  Ps. 
cxix.  108.  (2.)  Swiftness  noteth  diligence  in  taking  the  next  occasion  ; 
they  will  not  decline  an  opportunity,  and  say,  Another  day.  Delay  is 
a  sign  of  unwillingness.  You  shall  see,  Ezek.  i.,  the  beasts  had  four 
faces  and  four  wings  ;  they  had  four  faces,  as  waiting  when  the  Spirit 
would  come  upon  them ;  and  four  wings,  as  ready  to  look  and  fly  into 
that  part  of  the  world  into  which  God  would  dispatch  them.  This 
readiness  to  take  occasions  is  showed  in  three  things : — (1st.)  In  restrain 
ing  all  debates  and  deliberations :  '  I  consulted  not  with  flesh  and 
blood,  but  immediately  I  went  up  to  Jerusalem/  Gal.  i.  10.  When 
the  soul  deliberateth  about  duty,  it  neglecteth  it ;  do  not  debate  when 
God  commandeth,  whether  it  be  best  or  no  ;  the  soul  is  half  won  when 
it  yieldeth  to  dispute  things.  God  saith,  Gen.  ii.  17,  '  In  the  day  that 
thou  eatest  thereof,  thou  shalt  die/  And  Eve  repeateth,  chap.  iii.  3, 
'  Thou  shalt  not  eat,  lest  ye  die ; '  and  Satan  saith,  ver.  4,  '  Ye  shall 
not  surely  die/  God  affirmeth,  the  woman  doubteth,  and  Satan 
denieth.  It  is  not  good  to  allow  the  devil  the  advantage  of  a  debate  ; 
when  you  pause  upon  things,  Satan  worketh  upon  your  hesitancy.  (2d.) 
In  laying  aside  all  pretences  and  excuses.  Duty  would  never  be  done 
if  we  should  allow  the  soul  in  every  lesser  scruple  ;  there  will  still  be 
'  a  lion  in  the  way/  and  opening  to  the  Spouse  will  be  interpreted  a 
defiling  of  the  feet.  Peter,  as  soon  as  he  heard  the  voice  of  Christ, 
cast  himself  into  the  sea,  others  came  about  by  ship,  Mai  xiv.  29 ; 
he  did  not  plead  the  waves  between  him  and  Christ.  (3d.)  In  yielding 
yourselves  up  to  the  whole  will  of  God  without  reservations,  do  not 
allow  one  exception,  or  reserve  one  carnal  desire  :  Acts  ix.  6,  '  Lord, 
what  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?  '  The  ear  and  heart  was  open  for 
every  command.  So  1  Sam.  iii.  9,  '  Speak,  Lord,  for  thy  servant 
heareth/  He  was  ready  to  receive  whatever  God  would  command  ; 
but,  alas!  it  is  otherwise  with  us.  Christ  cometh  to  offer  himself 
to  us,  as  he  did  to  the  blind  man:  Luke  xviii.  41,  '  What  wilt  thou 
that  I  shall  do  unto  thee  ?  '  Christ  is  fain  to  ask  our  pleasure,  not  we 
his.  The  master  asketh  what  the  servant  will  command.  Yea,  we 
refuse  him  when  he  offereth  himself  to  us :  Heb.  xii.  25,  w  Trapcurrj- 
crare,  '  See  that  ye  refuse  not/  &c.  The  word  signifieth,  do  not  urge 
vain  pretences.  This  is  the  fourth  note,  but  I  must  be  more  par 

06s.  5.  From  that  be  swift  to  hear  ;  that  is,  the  word  of  God,  for 
otherwise  it  were  good  to  be  slow  in  hearing.  We  may  wish  our 
selves  deaf  sometimes/that  we  may  not  hear  oaths,  impurities,  railings ; 
as  old  Maris  was  glad  that  he  was  blind,  that  he  could  not  see  such 
a  cursed  apostate  as  Julian.  Divers  things  are  implied  in  this 
precept.  I  shall  endeavour  to  draw  out  the  sense  of  it  in  these  particu 

1.  It  showeth  how  we  should  value  hearing  :  be  glad  of  an  oppor- 

1  'Act  yrjpdffKb)  iroXXa  didavKdnevos. — Solon. 

132  AN  EXPOSITION.  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  19. 

tunity  ;  the  ear  is  the  sense  of  learning,1  and  so  it  is  of  grace  ;  it  is 
that  sense  that  is  consecrated  to  receive  the  most  spiritual  dispensa 
tions  :  Kom.  x.  14,  '  How  shall  they  believe  in  him  of  whom  they  have 
not  heard?  '  The  Lord  beginneth  his  sermon  with  '  Hear,  0  Israel/ 
Deut.  vi.  When  Christ  was  solemnly  discovered  from  heaven  to  be 
the  great  prophet  of  the  church,  the  respect  that  is  bespoken  for 
him  is  audience  :  Mat.  xvii.  5,  '  This  is  my  beloved  Son,  hear  him.' 
God  is  pleased  to  appoint  this  way,  do  not  despise  it.  Beading  hath  its 
use,  but  the  voice  hath  aliquid  latentis  energice,  a  secret  force  upon 
the  soul,  because  of  the  sympathy  between  the  external  word  and 
inward  reason  ;  I  mean,  it  hath  a  ministerial  efficacy,  by  which  the 
authority  and  sovereign  efficacy  of  the  Spirit  is  conveyed.  God 
would  insinuate  a  real  efficacy  in  a  moral  way,  and  therefore  useth 
the  voice.  The  apostle  had  spoken  much  of  the  word,  and  then  he 
saith, '  This  is  the  word  which  is  preached  to  you,'  1  Peter  i.  25. '  It  is 
not  the  word  read,  but  the  word  preached.  You  may  judge  it  a  vain 
artifice,  count  it  '  the  foolishness  of  preaching/  but  it  is  under  the 
blessing  of  a  solemn  institution:  '  It  pleased  the  Father/  &c.,  1  Cor. 
i.  21.  Therefore,  by  the  external  voice  there  is  meant,  then,  a 
ministerial  excitation.  Eeading  doth  good  in  its  place  ;  but  to  slight 
hearing,  out  of  a  pretence  that  you  can  read  better  sermons  at  home,  is  a 
sin.  Duties  mistimed  lose  their  nature  ;  the  blood  is  the  continent  of 
life  when  it  is  in  the  proper  vessels ;  but  when  it  is  out,  it  is  hurtful, 
and  breedeth  putrefactions  and  diseases. 

2.  It  showeth  how  ready  we  should  be  to  take  all  occasions  to  hear 
the  word.  If  ministers  must  preach  '  in  season  and  out  of  season/ 
a  people  are  bound  to  hear.  It  is  observed  that  a  little  before  the 
French  massacre  Protestants  were  cloyed  with  the  word  ;  and  so  it  is 
now.  Heretofore  they  would  run  far  and  near  to  enjoy  such  an 
opportunity :  Mat.  iii.  5,  '  Jerusalem  and  Judea,  and  all  the  region 
round  about,  came  to  hear  John.'  Some  of  those  places  mentioned 
were  thirty  miles  from  .ZEnon  beyond  Salem,  which  was  the  place 
where  John  baptized:  1  Sam.  iii.  1,  'The  word  of  the  Lord  was 
precious  in  those  days ;  for  there  was  no  open  vision.'  Heretofore 
lectures  were  frequented  when  they  were  more  scarce.  The  wheat  of 
heaven  was  despised  when  it  fell  every  day :  Amos  viii.  12,  '  I  will 
send  a  famine  of  the  word,  and  they  shall  wander  from  sea  to  sea, 
from  the  north  even  to  the  east,  they  shall  run  to  and  fro,  and  shall 
not  find  it.'  Then  they  would  go  far  and  near  for  a  little  comfort 
and  counsel.  This  is  one  of  those  enjoyments  which  is  valued  when 
it  is  wanted.  When  manna  is  a  common  food,  men  lust  for  quails : 
'  Nothing  but  this  manna  ! '  This  swiftness  here  showeth  the  content 
men  should  take  in  hearing  the  word ;  but,  alas  !  now  men  pretend 
every  vain  excuse,  their  merchandise,  their  farm,  and  so  cannot  wait 
upon  the  word  of  God :  it  may  be  on  the  Lord's  day,  when  they  dare 
do  nothing  else ;  but  few  take  other  occasions  and  opportunities.  David 
saith,Ps.  xxvi.  8,  '  I  have  loved  the  habitation  of  thy  house,  the  place 
where  thine  honour  dwelleth/  It  was  comfort  to  him  to  wait  upon 
God,  to  come  to  the  doors  of  wisdom,  a  burden  to  us. 

'  Plus  est  in  auribus  quam  in  oculis  situm,  quoniam  doctrina  et  sapientia  percipi 
auribus  solia  potest,  oculis  soils  non  potest.' — Lactantius. 

JAS.  I.  19."]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  133 

3.  It  noteth  readiness  to  hear  the  sense  and  mind  of  others  upon 
the  word.     We  should  not  be  so  puffed  up  with  our  own  knowledge, 
but  we  should  be  swift  to  hear  what  others  can  say.     It  is  a  great 
evil  to  contemn  others'  gifts  ;  there  is  none  so  wise  but  he  may  receive 
some  benefit  by  the  different  handling  of  what  he  himself  krioweth. 
It  is  an  advantage  to  observe  the  different  breathings  of  the  Spirit  of 
God  in  divers  instruments.     Job  would  not  '  despise  the  cause  of  his 
servants/  Job  xxxi.     And  as  we  should  not  contemn  their  gifts,  so 
we  should  not   contemn  their  judgments.      In  this  being  swift  to 
hear  is  condemned  that  l^io^vwjjioavvrj^  that  private  spirit,  and  over 
prizing  of  our  own  conceits  and  apprehensions,  so  that  we  are  not 
patient  to  hear  anything  against  them.    Men  are  '  puffed  up  with  their 
own  mind/  though  it  be  '  fleshly'  arjd  carnal,  Col.  ii.  18  ;  they  make 
a  darling  and  an  idol  of  their  own  thoughts.     The  apostle  saith, 
1  Cor.  xiv.  30,  '  If  anything  be  revealed  to  another  that  sitteth  by,  let 
the  first  hold  his  peace.'     You  do  not  know  what  may  be  revealed  to 
another  ;  no  man  is  above  a  condition  of  being  instructed.     Divide 
self  from  thy  opinion,  and  love  things  not  because  they  suit  with  thy 
prejudices,  but  truth.     '  Be  swift  to  hear/  that  is,  to  consider  what 
may  be  urged  against  you. 

4.  It  noteth  what  we  should  do  in  Christian  meetings.     They  are 
apt  to  degenerate  into  noise  and  clamour  ;  we  are  all  swift  to  speak, 
but  not  to  hear  one  another,  and  so  all  our  conferences  end  in  tumult 
and  confusion,  and  no  good  is  gotten  by  them  :  every  man's  '  belly  is 
like  a  bottle  full  of  wind,  ready  to  burst  for  want  of  vent/  Job  xxxii. 
19.     If  we  were  as  patient  and  swift  to  hear  as  we  are  ready  to  speak, 
there  would  be  less  of  wrath  and  more  of  profit  in  our  meetings.     I 
remember  when  a  Manichee   contested  with  Augustine,   and   with 
importunate  clamour  cried,  '  Hear  me,  hear  me/  the  father  modestly 
answered,  Nee  ego  te,  nee  tu  me,  sed  ambo  audiamus  apostolum — 
neither  hear  me,  nor  I  thee,  but  let  us  both  hear  the  apostle.     It 
were  well  if  we  could  thus  repress  the  violences  and  impetuousness  of 
our  spirits  ;  when  one  crieth,  Hear  me,  and  another,  Hear  me,  let  us 
both  hear  the  apostle,  and  then  we  shall  hear  one  another.     He  saith, 
'  Be  swift  to  hear,  slow  to  speak.'     When  Paul  reproveth  the  disorder 
and  tumult  that  was  in  the  Corinthian  assemblies,  he  adviseth  them 
to  speak  ava  pepos,  l  by  turn  or  course/  1  Cor.  xiv.  27  ;  and  ver.  31, 
*  Ye  may  all  prophesy  one  by  one,  that  all  may  learn,  and  all  be 
comforted  ; '  that  every  one  should  have  free  liberty  to  speak,  according 
as  their  part  and  turn  came,  and  not  in  a  hurry  and  clatter,  which 
hindered  both  the  instruction  and  comfort  of  the  assembly. 

Obs.  6.  That  there  are  many  cases  wherein  we  must  be  slow  to  speak. 
This  clause  must  also  be  treated  of  according  to  the  restriction  of  the 
context ;  slow  in  speaking  of  the  word  of  God,  and  that  in  several  cases. 

1.  It  teacheth  men  not  to  adventure  upon  the  preaching  of  the 
word  till  they  have  a  good  spiritual  furniture,  or  are  stored  with  a 
sufficiency  of  gifts.  It  is  not  for  every  one  that  can  speak  an  hour  to 
adventure  upon  the  work  of  teaching.  John  was  thirty  years  old 
when  he  preached  first,  Luke  iii.  1.  In  the  fifteenth  year  of  Tiberius,1 
that  was  John's  thirtieth  year.  Augustus  reigned  fifty-five  years,  and 

1  Stapyld.  in  Prompt.  Moral,  in  Dorn.  3,  Advent. 

134  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  19. 

John  was  born  in  his  fortieth  year,  and  preached  in  the  fifteenth  of 
Tiberius,  his  next  successor.  Every  one  itcheth  after  the  dignity  of 
being  a  teacher  in  Israel.  There  is  somewhat  of  superiority  in  it 
(upon  which  reason  the  apostle  forbiddeth  women  to  teach,  1  Cor. 
xiv.  34,  because  by  the  law  of  their  creation  they  cannot  be  superiors), 
and  somewhat  of  profit,  and  therefore  the  time  is  hastened  and  pre 
cipitated.  Few  stay  till  their  youthful  heats  be  spent,  and  thirty 
years'  experience  hath  fitted  them  for  so  great  a  work  and  burthen. 
It  is  observable  that  Jesus  Christ  had  also  fulfilled  thirty  years  ere  he 
entered  upon  his  public  ministry.  Though  I  do  not  tie  it  merely  to 
the  years  ;  either  too  young  or  too  weak,  it  is  all  one  to  me.  There 
are  (as  Ignatius  saith  in  his  epistle  to  the  Magnesians)  TTJV  7ro\iav 
fjidTiv  cfrepovres,  some  that  in  vain  hang  out  the  bush  of  grey  hairs, 
when  they  have  no  good  wine  to  vend  or  utter.  Indeed,  the  drift  of 
that  whole  epistle  is  to  persuade  them  to  reverence  their  bishop,  though 
but  of  small  years,1  where  he  instanceth  in  Daniel,  Solomon,  Jere 
miah,  Samuel,  Josiah,  whose  youth  was  seasoned  with  knowledge  and 
piety,  and  concludeth  that  it  is  not  age  but  gifts  make  a  minister, 
and,  through  the  abundance  of  Spirit,  there  may  be  an  old  mind  in  a 
young  body ;  and  Timothy,  though  younger  in  years,  was  an  elder  in 
the  church.  For  my  own  particular,  I  must  say,  as  Pharaoh's  chief 
butler  said,  Gen.  xli.  9,  '  I  remember  my  faults  this  day.'  I  cannot 
excuse  myself  from  much  of  crime  and  sin  in  it ;  but  I  have  been  in 
the  ministry  these  ten  years,  and  yet  not  fully  completed  the  thirtieth 
year  of  my  age  ;  the  Lord  forgive  my  rash  intrusion.  Whatever  help 
or  furtherance  I  have  contributed  to  the  faith  and  joy  of  the  saints  by 
my  former  public  labours,  or  my  private  ministerial  endeavours,  or 
shall  do  by  this  present  work,  I  desire  it  may  be  wholly  ascribed  to 
the  efficacy  of  the  divine  grace,  which  is  many  times  conveyed 
and  reached  forth  by  the  most  unworthy  instruments.  But  to  return. 
Tertullian 2  hath  a  notable  observation  concerning  some  sectaries  in 
his  time,  Nunquam  citius  prqficitur  quam  in  castris  rebellium,  ubi 
ipsum  illic  esse  promereri  est — that  men  usually  have  a  quick  dispatch 
and  progress  in  the  tents  of  heresy,  and  become  teachers  ere  they  are 
scarce  Christians.  He  goeth  on :  Neophytos  collocant,  ut  gloria  eos 
obligent,  quia  veritate  non  possunt — they  set  up  young  men  to  teach, 
that  they  may  win  them  by  honour,  when  they  cannot  gain  them  by 
truth.  Certainly  this  is  a  bait  that  pride  soon  swalloweth ;  and  that 
which  hath  drawn  many  into  error,  is  a  liberty  to  teach  before  they 
are  scarce  anything  in  religion.  Oh  !  consider,  hasty  births  do  not  fill 
the  house,  but  the  grave.  Men  that  obtrude  themselves  too  soon  upon 
a  calling  do  not  edify,  but  destroy.  It  is  good  for  a  while  to  be  slow 
to  speak.  Aquinas,  when  he  heard  Albertus,  was  called  Bos  mutus, 
the  dumb  ox,  because  for  a  great  while  he  was  altogether  silent.  It 
is  not  the  Spirit  of  God,  but  the  spirit  of  vainglory  which  putteth 
men  upon  things  ^  which  they  are  not  able  to  wield  and  manage.  It  is 
good  to  take  notice  of  those  compressions  and  constraints  that  are 

1  Hortatur  Magnesianos  :  '  MT?  Kara^ovelv  TT?S  i)\iida.s  TOV  eirLffKbirov,  ou  irpol  rj]v  thai- 
vw&yv  afopuvras  vettTrjTa   dXXdt  irpol  TTJV  tv  Gey  <t>p6v*i<rtv.''—Ignat.  Epist.  ad  Maqnes  sub 
initio  Epist. 

2  Tertul.  in  lib.  de  Prescript,  adversus  Hseret. 

JAS.  I.  19.]  UfON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  135 

within  our  spirits  ;  but  it  is  good  also  to  take  heed  that  they  do  not 
arise  from  pride,  or  some  carnal  affections. 

2.  It  showeth  that  we  should  not  precipitate  our  judgments  con 
cerning  doctrines  and  points  of  divinity.     That  we  may  not  rashly 
condemn  or  defend  anything  that  is  contrary  to  the  word  of  God,  or 
of  which  we  have  certainty  from  the  word.     Be  slow  to  speak  ;  that 
is,  do  not  speak  till  you  have  a  sure  ground.     The  sudden  conceptions 
of  the  mind  are  not  always  the  best.     To  take  up  things  hastily 
engageth  a  man  to  many  inconveniences.     Moses  would  not  give  an 
answer  suddenly  ;  Num.  ix.  8,  '  I  will  hear  what  the  Lord  will  speak 
concerning  you.'     That  great  prophet  was  at  a  stand  till  he  had  spoken 
with  God.     Under  the  law  the  tip  of  the  priest's  ear  was  to  be  sprinkled 
with  blood  ;  first  he  must  hear  Christ,  and  then  speak  to  the  people. 
Well,  then,  be  not  too  hasty  to  defend  any  opinion  till  you  have  tried 
it.     How  mutable  do  men  of  a  sudden  spirit  and  fiery  nature  appear 
to  the  world  !     Rashly  professing  according  to  their  present  appre 
hensions,  they  are  forced  to  change  often.     There  should  be  a  due 
pause  ere  we  receive  things,  and  a  serious  deliberation  ere  we  defend 
and  profess  them. 

3.  That  we  be  not  more  forward  to  teach  others  than  to  learn  our 
selves.     Many  are  hasty  to  speak,  but  backward  to  do,  and  can  better 
master  it  and  prescribe  to  others  than  practise  themselves,  which  our 
apostle  noteth:  James  iii.  1,  'My  brethren,  be  not  many  masters;' 
that  is,  be  not  so  forward  to  discipline  others  when  you  neglect  your 
own  souls.     The  apostle  speaketh  so  earnestly,  as  if  he  meant  to  rouse 
a  benumbed  conscience  :  Rom.  ii.  21,  *  Thou  which  teachest  another, 
teachest  thou  not  thyself?'     And  I  have  heard   that   a   scandalous 
minister,  in  reading  of  it,  was  struck  at  the  heart  and  converted. 
Since  the  fall,  light  is  more  directive  than  persuasive  ;  and  therefore 
a  heathen  could  observe,  that  it  is  far  more  easy  to  instruct  others 
than  to  practise  ourselves.1 

4.  That  we  do  not  vainly  and  emptily  talk  of  the  things  of  God, 
and  put  forth  ourselves  above  what  is  meet  :  it  is  good  to  take  every 
occasion,  but  many  times  indiscreet  speaking  doth  more  hurt  than 
silence.    Some  will  be  always  bewraying  their  folly,  and  in  every  meet 
ing  engross  all  the  discourse  :    Prov.  x.  19,   'In  the  multitude  of 
words  there  wanteth  not  sin,  but  he  that  refraineth  his  lips  is  wise.' 
We  should  weigh  our  words  before  we  utter  them  :  when  men  are 
swift  to  speak  and  much  in  talk,  they  bewray  some  folly  which  is  a  stain 
to  them.     So  Prov.  xvii.  27,  '  He  that  hath  understanding  spareth 
his  words/     Empty  vessels  sound  loudest  ;  and  men  of  great  parts, 
like  a  deep  river,  glide  on  with  the  least  noise. 

5.  It  teacheth  us  not  to  be  over-ready  to  frame  objections  against 
the  word.     It  is  good  to  be  dumb  at  a  reproof,  though  not  deaf.     Let 
not  every  proud  thought  break  out  into  thy  speeches.     Guilt  will 
recoil  at  the  hearing  of  the  word,  and  the  mind  will  be  full  of  vain 
surmises  and  carnal  objections  ;   but  alas  !    how  odious  would  men 
appear  if  they  should  be  swift  to  utter  them  —  if  thoughts,  that  are  the 
words  of  the  mind,  should  be  formed  into  outward  words  and  expres- 

1  '"Airavres  Zfffiev   ec's  rb  vovQerelv  v6<f>oi,  6rav  d'avroi  iroiufiev  /juapol  ou  yiyvu<?KOfJi.ei>.'  — 

136  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  19. 

sions.  Thoughts  may  be  corrected  upon  further  information,  but 
words  cannot  be  recalled;  thoughts  do  only  stain  our  own  spirits, 
words  convey  a  taint  to  others ;  thoughts  are  more  indeliberate  than 
words ;  in  thoughts  we  mi  with  our  mind  only,  in  words  with  our 
mind  and  tongue. 

Obs.  7.  That  renewed  men  should  be  slow  to  wrath.  You  must 
understand  this  with  the  same  reference  that  you  do  the  other  clauses ; 
and  so  it  implieth  that  the  word  must  not  be  received  or  delivered 
with  a  wrathful  heart :  it  concerneth  both  hearers  and  teachers. 

1.  The  teachers.     They  must  be  slow  to  wrath  in  delivering  the 
word.     (1.)  Let  not  the  word  lacquey  upon  private  anger :  spiritual 
weapons  must  not  be  used  in  your  own  cause  ;  you  have  not  a  power 
to  cast  out  of  Christ  at  your  own  pleasure.     The  word  is  not  com 
mitted  to  you  for  the  advancing  of  your  esteem  and  interests,   but 
Christ's.      The  apostle  had  '  vengeance  in  a  readiness/  2  Cor.  x.  6, 
but  it  was  for  disobedience  to  Christ,  not  for  disrespect  to  his  own  person. 
Men  that  quarrel  for  esteem  bring  a  just  reproach  and  scandal  upon 
their  ministry.     (2.)  Do  not  easily  deliver  yourselves  up  to  the  sway 
of  your  own  passions  and  anger :  people  will  easily  distinguish  between 
this  mock  thunder  and  divine  threatenings.     Passionate  outcries  do 
only  fright  the  easy  and  over-credulous  souls,  and  that  only  for  the 
present ;  proofs  and  insinuations  do  a  great  deal  more  good :  snow 
that  falleth  soft,  soaketh  deep.     In  the  tempest  Christ  slept ;  when 
passion  is  up,  true  zeal  is  usually  asleep. 

2.  The  people.     It  teacheth  them  patience  under  the  word.     Do 
not  rise  up  in  arms  against  a  just  reproof;  it  is  natural  to  us,  but  be 
slow  to  it ;  do  not  yield  to  your  nature.     David  said  '  I  have  sinned 
against  the  Lord/  2  Sam.  xii.  13,  when  Nathan  set  home  his  fact  with 
all  the  aggravations :  and  it  is  an  accusation  against  a  king,  2  Chron. 
xxx vi.  12,   *  He  humbled  riot  himself  before  Jeremiah  the  prophet, 
speaking  from  the  mouth  of  the  Lord.'     Mark,  it  is  not  said,  '  before 
the  Lord/  but '  before  Jeremiah.'     God  was  angry  with  a  great  king 
for  not  humbling  himself  before  a  poor  prophet.     Anger  doth  but 
bewray  your  own  guilt.     One  was  reported  to  have  uttered  something 
against  the  honour  of  Tiberius  ;  the  crafty  tyrant  did  the  more  strongly 
believe  it,  because  it  was  the  just  report  of  his  own  guilt.     Quia  vera 
erant  dicta  credebantur,  saith  the  historian.1     So  many  think  we  aim 
at  them,  intend  to  disgrace  them,  because  indeed  there  is  a  cause,  and 
so  storm  at  the  word.     Usually  none  are  angry  at  a  reproof  but  those 
that  most  deserve  it ;  and  when  conviction,  which  should  humble, 
doth  but  irritate,  it  is  an  ill  sign.     Those  that  were  '  pricked  at  the 
hearts/  Acts  ii.  37,  were  much  better  tempered  than  those  that  were  '  cut 
to  the  heart/  Acts  vii.  54,  as  humiliation  is  a  better  fruit  of  the  word 
than  impatience.     You  shall  see  the  children  of  God  are  most  meek 
when  the  word  falleth  upon  their  hearts  most  directly.  David  saith, '  Let 
the  righteous  reprove  me,  and  it  shall  be  an  oil/  £c.     Reproof  to  a 
gracious  soul  is  like  a  sword  anointed  with  balsam ;  it  woundeth  and 
healeth  at  the  same  time.     So  Hezekiah  said,  Isa.  xxxix.  8,  '  Good  is 
the  word  of  the  Lord  which  thou  hast  spoken : '  it  was  a  sad  word,  a 
heavy  threatening;    yet  the  submission  of  his  sanctified  judgment 

1  Tacitus. 

JAS.  I.  19.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  137 

calleth  it  good.  In  such  cases  you  should  not  storm  and  rage,  but 
give  thanks,  and  say,  as  David  to  Abigal,  '  Blessed  be  the  Lord  that 
sent  thee  to  meet  me  this  day : '  bless  God  for  meeting  with  you  in 
the  word. 

Obs.  8.  That  it  is  some  cure  of  passion  to  delay  it.  *  Be  slow  to 
wrath.'  Anger  groweth  not  by  degrees,  like  other  passions,  but  at  her 
birth  she  is  in  her  full  growth  ;  the  heat  and  fury  of  it  is  at  first,  and 
therefore  the  best  cure  is  deliberation  : 1  Prov.  xix.  11,  '  The  discretion 
of  a  man  deferreth  his  anger ; '  that  is,  the  revenge  which  anger 
meditateth.  Many  men  are  like  tinder  or  gunpowder,  take  fire  at  the 
least  spark  of  offence,  and,  by  following  their  passions  too  close,  run 
themselves  into  inconveniences ;  therefore  it  is  good  to  check  these 
precipitant  motions  by  delay  and  due  recourse  to  reason :  Prov.  xiv. 
29,  '  He  that  is  hasty  in  spirit  exalteth  folly.'  When  men  are  quick 
and  short  of  spirit,  they  are  transported  into  many  indecencies,  which 
dishonour  God,  and  wound  their  conscience,  and  afterward  have 
cause  enough,  by  a  long  repentance,  to  bewail  the  sad  effects  of  a 
short  and  sudden  anger.  Athenodorus  advised  Augustus,  when  he 
was  surprised  with  anger,  to  repeat  the  alphabet,  which  advice  was  so 
far  good,  as  it  tended  to  cool  a  sudden  rage,  that  the  mind,  being 
diverted,  might  afterward  deliberate.  So  Ambrose  2  counselled  Theo- 
dosius  the  Great  (after  he  had  rashly  massacred  the  citizens  of  Thes- 
salonica)  to  decree,  that  in  all  sentences  that  concerned  life,  the 
execution  of  them  should  be  deferred  till  the  thirtieth  day,  that  so 
there  may  be  a  space  for  showing  mercy,  if  need  required.  Well, 
then,  indulge  not  the  violence  and  swiftness  of  passion ;  sudden  appre 
hensions  usually  mistake,  the  ultimate  judgment  of  reason  is  best. 
Motions  vehement,  and  of  a  sudden  irruption,  run  away  without  a  rule, 
and  end  in  folly  and  inconvenience.  It  is  a  description  of  God  that 
he  is  '  slow  to  wrath  ; '  certainly  a  hasty  spirit  is  most  unlike  God.  It 
is  true  that  some  good  men  have  been  observed  to  be  ofu^oXot,  hasty, 
and  soon  moved,  as  Calvin.3  Augustine  observes  the  like  of  his 
father,  Patricius,4  and  some  observe  the  same  of  Cameron  ; 5  but  for  the 
most  part  these  motions  in  those  servants  of  God  were  but  (as  Jerome 
calleth  them)  propassions,  sudden  and  irresistible  alterations  that  were 
connatural  to  them,  and  which  they  by  religious  exercises  in  a  great  mea 
sure  mortified  and  subdued  ;  and  if  anger  came  soon,  it  stayed  not  long. 
Solomon  says,  Eccles.  vii.  9,  '  Be  not  hasty  in  thy  spirit  to  be  angry, 
for  anger  resteth  in  the  bosom  of  fools.'  That  anger  is  6  most  culpable 
which  soon  cometh,  but  resteth  or  stayeth  long,  as  being  indulged. 
So  Solomon  saith  elsewhere,  Prov.  xiv.  17,  '  He  that  is  soon  angry 
dealeth  foolishly,  but  a  man  of  wicked  devices  is  hated  ; '  implying, 
that  sudden  anger  is  an  effect  of  folly  and  weakness,  which  may  be 

1  '  Maximum  remedium  iraedilatio  est,  ut  primus  ejus  fervor  relanguescat,  etcaligo  quae 
prerait  mentem  aut  resiliat  aut  minus  densa  sit ;  graves  habet  impetus  primo.' — Senec. 
de  Ira,  lib.  ii.  cap.  28,  and  lib.  iii.  cap.  12. 

2  Ruff.,  lib.  ii.  Hist.,  cap.  18  ;  Theod.,  lib.  v.  Hist.,  cap.  26. 

3  Beza  in  Vita  Calvini,  p.  109. 

4  '  Erat  vero  ille  sicut  benevolentia  praecipuus  :  ita  ira  fervidus.' — Aug.  Confess.,  lib. 
ix.  cap.  9. 

5  '  '0£i/xoXos  quidam  et  adversus  notos  etfamiliares  facile  initabilis,  sed  qui  etiam  Irani 
deponeret,  atque  ultro  culpam  et  errorem  agn«'*ceret.' — Icon.  Carrier.  Prcef.  Operibus. 

6  Qu.  '  is  not '  ?— ED. 

138  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  20. 

incident  to  the  best,  but  to  concoct  anger  into  malice  is  an  argument 
of  wickedness,  and  is  found  only  in  the  most  depraved  natures  ;  in 
short,  it  is  contemptible  to  be  angry  suddenly,  but  to  plot  revenge 

Ver.  20.  For  the  wrath  of  man  worketh  not  the  righteousness  of 

Here  he  rendereth  a  reason  of  the  last  clause,  why  they  should  take 
heed  of  this  indignation  and  rising  of  their  hearts  against  the  word, 
because  the  wrath  of  man  would  hinder  them  from  attaining  that 
righteousness  and  accomplishing  that  duty  which  God  requireth  in 
his  word. 

For  the  ivrath  of  man. — There  is  an  emphasis  in  that  word :  he 
doth  not  say  wrath  in  general,  for  there  is  always  a  righteousness  in 
the  wrath  of  God.  The  apostle  saith,  Kom.  i.  18,  it  is  '  revealed 
from  heaven  against  the  unrighteousness  of  men/  or,  rather,  the  wrath 
of  man,  to  show  that,  under  what  disguises  soever  it  appeareth,  it  is 
but  human  and  fleshly  :  there  is  nothing  of  God,  but  much  of  man 
in  it. 

Worketh  not,  ov  Karepjd^eraL — doth  not  attain,  doth  not  persuade 
or  bring  forth,  any  righteous  action  ;  yea,  it  hindereth  God  from  per 
fecting  his  work  in  us. 

The  righteousness  of  God. — That  is,  say  some,  justice  mixed  with 
mercy,  which  is  the  righteousness  that  the  scriptures  ascribe  to  God, 
and  anger  will  not  suffer  a  man  to  dispense  it ;  but  this  seems  too 
much  strained  and  forced.  Others  say  the  meaning  is,  it  doth  not 
execute  God's  just  revenge,  but  our  own  malice.  But  rather  the 
righteousness  of  God  is  put  for  such  righteousness  as  God  requireth, 
God  approveth,  God  effecteth  ;  and  in  this  sense  in  scripture  things 
are  said  to  be  of  God  or  of  Christ  which  are  effected  by  his  power 
or  commanded  in  his  word  :  thus  faith  is  said  to  be  the  work  of  God, 
John  vi.  29,  because  he  commandeth  we  should  labour  in  it,  which 
plainly  is  the  intent  of  that  context ;  and  the  apostle  useth  the  word 
'  righteousness,'  because  anger  puts  on  the  form  of  justice  and  righteous 
ness  more  than  any  other  virtues.  It  seemeth  to  be  but  a  just 
displeasure  against  an  offence,  and  looks  upon  revenge  not  as  irrational 
excess,  but  a  just  punishment,  especially  such  anger  as  carrieth  the 
face  of  zeal,  which  is  the  anger  spoken  of  in  the  text.  Kage  and 
distempered  heats  in  controversies  of  religion,  and  about  the  sense  of 
the  word,  such  carnal  zeal,  how  just  and  pious  soever  it  seem,  is  not 
approved  and  acquitted  as  righteous  before  God.  It  is  observable 
that  there  is  a  litotes  in  the  apostle's  expression — more  is  intended  than 
said ;  for  the  apostle  means,  it  is  so  far  from  working  righteousness, 
that  it  worketh  all  manner  of  evil ;  witness  the  tragical  effects  of  it 
in  the  world:  the  slaughters  that  Simeon  and  Levi  wrought  in 
Shechem  :  Sarah  in  her  anger  breaks  two  commandments  at  once, 
takes  the  name  of  God  in  vain,  and  falsely  accuseth  Abraham, 
Gen.  xvi.  5. 

Obs.  1.  From  the  context.  The  worst  thing  that  we  can  bring  to  a 
religious  controversy  is  anger.  The  context  speaketh  of  anger  occa 
sioned  by  differences  about  the  word.  Usually  no  affections  are  so  out 
rageous  as  those  which  are  engaged  in  the  quarrel  of  religion,  for  then 

JAS.  I.  20.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  139 

that  which  should  bridle  the  passion  is  made  the  fuel  of  it,  and  that 
which  should  restrain  undue  heats  and  excesses  engageth  them.  How 
ever,  this  should  not  be.  Christianity,  of  all  religions,  is  the  meekest 
and  most  humble.  It  is  founded  upon  the  blood  of  Christ,  who  is  a 
Lamb  slain.  It  is  consigned  and  sealed  by  the  Spirit  of  Christ,  who 
descended  like  a  dove.  Both  are  emblems  of  a  meek  and  modest 
humility.  And  should  a  meek  religion  be  defended  by  our  violences, 
and  the  God  of  peace  served  with  wrathful  affections,  and  the  mad 
ness  of  an  evil  nature  bewray  itself  in  the  best  cause  ?  Christ's  war 
fare  needeth  not  such  carnal  weapons ;  as  Achish  said,  '  Have  I  need 
of  mad  men  ? '  1  Sam.  xxi.  15.  So,  hath  Jesus  Christ  need  of  our 
passions  and  furies  ?  Doth  the  God  of  heaven  need  { a  tongue  set  on 
fire  of  hell '  ?  James  iii.  6.  Michael  the  archangel  was  engaged  in 
the  best  cause  against  the  worst  adversary,  with  Satan  about  the  body 
of  Moses  ;  and  yet  the  purity  of  his  nature  would  not  permit  him  to 
profane  his  engagement  with  any  excess  and  indecency  of  passion : 
'  He  durst  not  bring  against  him  a  railing  accusation,'  Jude  9.  And 
as  the  wrath  of  man  is  unsuitable  to  the  matters  of  God,  so  it  is  also 
prejudicial.  When  tongue  is  sharpened  against  tongue,  and  pen  against 
pen,  what  followeth  ?  Nothing  but  mutual  animosities  and  hatreds, 
whereby,  if  we  gain  aught  of  truth,  we  lose  much  of  love  and  good 
ness.  Satan  would  fain  be  even  with  God.  The  devil's  kingdom  is 
mostly  ruined  by  the  rage  of  his  own  instruments ;  and  you  cannot 
gratify  Satan  more  than  when  you  wrong  the  truth  by  an  unseemly 
defence  of  it ; l  for  then  he  seemeth  to  be  quits  with  Christ,  overturn 
ing  his  kingdom  by  those  which  are  engaged  in  the  defence  of  it. 
Briefly,  then,  if  you  would  do  good,  use  a  fit  means.  The  barking 
dog  loseth  the  prey.  Violence  and  furious  prosecution  seldom  gaineth. 
Those  engage  most  successfully  that  use  the  hardest  arguments  and 
the  softest  words ;  whereas  railings  and  revilings,  as  they  are  without 
love,  so  they  are  without  profit.  Be  watchful ;  our  religious  affections 
may  often  overset  us. 

06s.  2.  From  that  ivorketh  not  the  righteousness.  Anger  is  not  to 
be  trusted  ;  it  is  not  so  just  and  righteous  as  it  seemeth  to  be.  Of  all 
passions  this  is  most  apt  to  be  justified.  As  Jonah  said  to  God,  '  I 
do  well  to  be  angry,'  Jonah  iv.  9,  so  men  are  apt  to  excuse  their  heats 
and  passions,  as  if  they  did  but  express  a  just  indignation  against  an 
offence  and  wrong  received.  Anger,  like  a  cloud,  blindeth  the  mind, 
and  then  tyranniseth  over  it.  There  is  in  it  somewhat  of  rage  and 
violence ;  it  vehemently  exciteth  a  man  to  act,  and  taketh  away  his 
rule  according  to  which  he  ought  to  act.  All  violent  concitations  of 
the  spirit  disturb  reason,  and  hinder  clearness  of  debate ;  and  it  is 
then  with  the  soul  as  it  is  with  men  in  a  mutiny,  the  gravest  cannot 
be  heard ;  and  there  is  in  it  somewhat  of  mist  and  darkness,  by  which 
reason,  being  beclouded,  is  rather  made  a  party  than  a  judge,  and  doth 
not  only  excuse  our  passion,  but  feed  it,  as  being  employed  in  represent 
ing  the  injury,  rather  than  bridling  our  irrational  excess.  Well,  then, 
do  not  believe  anger.  Men  credit  their  passion,  and  that  foments  it. 
In  an  unjust  cause,  when  Sarah  was  passionate,  you  see  how  confident 
she  is,  Gen.  xvi.  5,  *  The  Lord  judge  between  me  and  thee.'  It  would 

1  '  Affectavit  quandoque  diabolus  veritateru  defendendo  concutere.' — Tert. 

140  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.    I.  20. 

have  been  ill  for  her  if  the  Lord  had  umpired  between  her  and  Abra 
ham.  It  was  a  strange  confidence,  when  she  was  in  the  wrong,  to 
appeal  to  God.  You  see  anger  is  full  of  mistakes,  and  it  seemeth 
just  and  righteous  when  it  doth  nothing  less  than  work  the  righteous 
ness  of  God.  The  heathens  suspected  themselves  when  under  the 
power  of  their  anger.  '  I  would  beat  thee/  saith  one,  '  if  I  were  not 
angry/  l  When  you  are  under  the  power  of  a  passion,  you  "have  just 
cause  to  suspect  all  your  apprehensions  ;  you  are  apt  to  mistake  others, 
and  to  mistake  your  own  spirits.  Passion  is  blind,  and  cannot  judge  ; 
it  is  furious,  and  hath  no  leisure  to  debate  and  consider. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  anger  of  man  and  righteousness  of  God.  Note 
the  opposition,  for  there  is  an  emphasis  in  those  two  words  man  and 
God.  The  point  is,  that  a  wrathful  spirit  is  a  spirit  most  unsuitable 
to  God.  God  being  the  God  of  peace,  requireth  pacatum  animum — 
a  quiet  and  composed  spirit.  Thunder  is  in  the  lower  regions, 
inferiora  fulminant ;  all  above  is  quiet.  Wrathful  men  are  most  unfit 
either  to  act  grace  or  to  receive  grace  ;  to  -act  grace  by  drawing  nigh 
to  God  in  worship,  for  worship  must  carry  proportion  with  the  object 
of  it,  as  the  God  that  is  a  spirit,  John  iv.  27,  will  be  served  in  spirit ;  so 
the  God  of  peace  with  a  peaceable  mind.  So  to  receive  grace  from 
God :  angry  men  give  place  to  Satan,  but  grieve  the  Spirit,  Eph.  iv.  26, 
27,  with  30,  and  so  are  more  fit  to  receive  sin  than  grace.  God  is 
described,  Ps.  ii.  4,  to  '  sit  in  the  heavens,'  which  noteth  a  quiet  and 
composed  posture ;  and  truly,  as  he  sitteth  in  the  heavens,  so  he 
dwelleth  in  a  meek  and  quiet  spirit. 

Obs.  4.  The  last  note  is  more  general,  from  the  whole  verse :  that 
man's  anger  is  usually  evil  and  unrighteous.  Anger  and  passion  is  a 
sin  with  which  the  people  of  God  are  many  times  surprised,  and  too 
often  do  they  swallow  it  without  grief  and  remorse,  out  of  a  conceit 
partly  that  their  anger  is  such  as  is  lawful  and  allowed ;  partly  that 
it  is  but  a  venial  evil,  and  of  sudden  surreption,  for  which  there  is  a 
pardon  of  course. 

I  shall  therefore  endeavour  two  things  briefly : — 

1.  Show  you  what  anger  is  sinful. 

2.  How  sinful,  and  how  great  an  evil  it  is. 

First,  To  state  the  matter,  that  it.  is  necessary,  for  all  anger  is  not 
sinful ;  one  sort  of  it  falleth  under  a  concession,  another  under  a  com 
mand,  another  under  the  just  reproofs  of  the  word. 

[1.]  There  are  some  indeliberable  motions,  which  Jerome  calleth 
propassions,2  sudden  and  irresistible  alterations,  which  are  the  infelici 
ties  of  nature,  not  the  sins  ;3  tolerable  in  themselves,  if  rightly  stinted. 
A  man  is  not  to  be  stupid  and  insensate :  anger  in  itself  is  but  a 
natural  motion  to  that  which  is  offensive  ;  and  (as  all  passions)  is  so 
long  lawful  as  it  doth  not  make  us  omit  a  duty,  or  dispose  us  to  a  sin, 
or  exceed  the  value  of  its  impulsive  cause.  So  the  apostle  saith,  '  Be 
angry,  and  sin  not,'  Eph.  iv.  26.  He  alloweth  what  is  natural,  for- 
biddeth  what  is  sinful. 

[2.]  There  is  a  necessary  holy  anger,  which  is  the  whetstone  of 

1  '  Cocdissem  te  nisi  iratus  essem.' — Plato. 

2  '  UpoTrddeiai,  non  irddrjS — Hicron.  Epist.  ad  Demet. 

3  '  Infirmitates,  non  iniquitates.' — Ambros. 

JAS.  I.  20.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  141 

fortitude  and  zeal.  So  it  is  said,  '  Lot's  righteous  soul  was  vexed/ 
2  Peter  ii.  7.  So  Christ  himself,  Mark  iii.  5.  '  He  looked  about  him 
with  anger.'  So  Moses'  wrath  waxed  hot,  Exod.  xi.  8.  This  is  but 
an  advised  motion  of  the  will,  guided  by  the  rules  of  reason.  Cer 
tainly  they  are  angry  and  sin  not  who  are  angry  at  nothing  but  sin  : 
it  is  well  when  every  passion  serveth  the  interests  of  religion.  How 
ever,  let  "me  tell  you,  this  being  a  fierce  and  strong  motion  of  the 
spirit,  it  must  be  used  with  great  advice  and  caution.  (1.)  The  prin 
ciple  must  be  right.  God's  interests  and  ours  are  often  twisted,  and 
many  times  self  interposeth  the  more  plausibly  because  it  is  varnished 
with  a  show  of  religion  ;  and  we  are  more  apt  to  storm  at  indignities 
and  affronts  offered  to  ourselves  rather  than  to  God.  The  Samaritans 
rejected  Christ,  and  in  the  name  of  Christ  the  apostles,  they  presently 
called  for  fire  from  heaven;  but  our  Lord  saith,  Luke  ix.  55,  'Ye 
know  not  what  mariner  of  spirit  ye  are  of.'  It  is  good  to  look  to 
the  impulses  upon  which  our  spirits  are  acted  ;  pride  and  self-love 
is  apt  to  rage  at  our  own  contempt  and  disgrace  ;  and  the  more 
securely  when  the  main  interest  is  God's.  A  river  many  times  loseth 
its  savour  when  it  is  mingled  with  other  streams;  and  zeal  that 
boileth  up  upon  an  injury  done  to  God  may  prove  carnal,  when  it  is 
fed  with  the  accessions  of  our  own  contempt  and  interest.1  It  is 
observed  of  Moses,  that  he  was  most  meek  in  his  own  cause.  When 
Miriam  and  Aaron  spoke  against  him,  it  is  said,  Num.  xii.  3,  '  The 
man  Moses  was  meek  above  all  men  in  the  earth  ;  '  but  when  the  law 
was  made  void,  he  broke  the  tables,  and  his  meek  spirit  was  heightened 
into  some  excess  of  zeal.  By  that  action  you  would  have  judged  his 
temper  hot  and  furious.  Lot's  spirit  was  vexed,  but  it  was  with 
Sodom's  filthiness,  not  with  Sodom's  injuries.  Zeal  is  too  good  an 
affection  to  be  sacrificed  to  the  idol  of  our  own  esteem  and  interests. 
(2.)  It  must  have  a  right  object  :  the  heat  of  indignation  must  be 
against  the  crime,  rather  than  against  the  person  :  good  anger  is 
always  accompanied  with  grief  ;  it  prompteth  us  to  pity  and  pray 
for  the  party  offending.  Mark  iii.  5,  Christ  '  looked  about  him  with 
anger,  and  was  grieved  for  the  hardness  of  their  hearts/  False  zeal 
hath  mischief  and  malice  in  it  ;  it  would  have  the  offender  rooted  out, 
and  purposeth  revenge  rather  than  correction.  (3.)  The  manner 
must  be  right.  See  that  you  be  not  tempted  to  any  indecency  and 
unhandsomeness  of  expression  ;  violent  and  troubled  expressions  argue 
some  carnal  commotion  in  the  spirit.  Moses  was  angry  upon  a  good 
cause,  but  he  *  spake  unadvisedly  withj  his  lips,'  Ps.  cvi.  33.  In  reli 
gious  contests  men  are  more  secure,  as  if  the  occasion  would  warrant 
their  excesses  ;  and  so  often  anger  is  vented  the  more  freely,  and  lieth 
unmortified  under  a  pretence  of  zeal. 

[3.]  There  is  a  sinful  anger  when  it  is  either  —  (1.)  Hasty  and  inde- 
liberate.  Kash  and  sudden  motions  are  never  without  sin.  Some 
pettish  spirits  are,  as  I  said,  like  fine  glasses,  broken  as  soon  as 
touched,  and  all  of  fire  upon  every  slight  and  trifling  occasion  ;  when 
meek  and  grave  spirits  are  like  flints,  that  do  not  send  out  a  spark  but 
after  violent  and  great  collision.  Feeble  minds  have  a  habit  of  wrath, 

[  i/'i/xtf  ^ay  KaO'  eavrov  Sta/3o\ds  viro<j>epwv,  &c.'  —  Basil  ad  Fratres  in 

142  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  20. 

and,  like  broken  bones,  are  apt  to  roar  with  the  least  touch :  it  argueth 
much  unmortifiedness  to  be  so  soon  moved.  Or,  (2.)  Immoderate, 
when  it  exceedeth  the  merits  of  the  cause,  as  being  too  much,  or  kept 
too  long  :  too  much  when  the  commotion  is  so  immoderate  as  to  dis 
compose  the  spirit,  or  to  disturb  reason,  or  to  interrupt  prayer,  and 
the  free  exercise  of  the  spirit  in  duties  of  religion.  When  men  have 
lost  that  patience  in  which  they  should  possess  and  enjoy  themselves, 
Luke  xxi.  19.  There  is  a  rational  dislike  that  may  be  allowed,  but  such 
violent  commotions  are  not  without  sin.  Too  long  :  anger  should  be 
like  a  spark,  soon  extinguished ;  like  fire  in  straw,  rather  than  like  fire 
in  iron.  Thoughts  of  revenge  are  sweet,  but  when  they  stay  long  in 
the  vessel  they  are  apt  to  wax  eager  and  sour.  New  wine  is  heady, 
but  if  it  be  kept  long,  it  groweth  tart.  Anger  is  furious,  but  if  it  be 
detained,  it  is  digested  and  concocted  into  malice.  Aristotle  reckoneth 
three  degrees  of  angry  men,  each  of  which  is  worse  than  the  former ; 
some  are  hasty,  others  are  bitter,  others  are  implacable.1  Wrath 
retained  desistetli  not  without  revenge.  Oh !  consider  this  spirit  is 
most  unchristian.  The  rule  of  the  word  is,  '  Let  not  the  sun  go  down 
upon  your  wrath/  Eph.  iv.  26.  This  is  a  fire  that  must  be  covered 
ere  we  go  to  bed :  if  the  sun  leave  us  angry,  the  next  morning  he  may 
find  us  malicious.  Plutarch  saith  of  the  Pythagoreans  that  if  any  offence 
had  fallen  out  in  the  day,  they  would  before  sunset  mutually  embrace 
one  another,  and  depart  in  love.2  And  there  is  a  story  of  Patricius 
and  John  of  Alexandria,  between  whom  great  anger  had  passed  ;  but 
at  evening  John  sent  to  him  this  message,  The  sun  is  set;  upon  which 
they  were  soon  reconciled.  (3.)  Causeless,  without  a  sufficient  ground  : 
Mat.  v.  22,  '  Whosoever  is  angry  with  his  brother  without  a  cause,  is 
in  danger  of  judgment/  But  now  the  great  inquiry  is,  What  is  a 
sufficient  cause  for  anger  ?  Are  injuries  ?  I  answer — No  ;  our  religion 
forbiddeth  revenge  as  well  as  injury,  for  they  differ  only  in  order. 
The  ill-doing  of  another  doth  not  loosen  and  take  away  the  bond  of 
our  love.  When  men  are  provoked  by  an  injury,  they  think  they  may 
do  anything  ;  as  if  another's  injury  had  exempted  them  from  the 
obedience  of  God's  law.  This  is  but  to  repeat  and  act  over  their  sins  : 
it  was  bad  in  them,  it  is  worse  in  us ;  for  he  that  sinneth  by  example 
sinneth  twice,3  because  he  had  an  instance  of  the  odiousness  of  it  in 
another.  To  '  answer  a  fool  according  to  his  folly '  is  to  be  '  like  him/ 
Prov.  xxvi.  4  ;  to  practise  that  myself  which  I  judge  odious  in  another  ; 
and  certainly  it  cannot  be  any  property  of  a  good  man  purposely  to  be 
evil  because  another  is  so.4  But  are  mishaps  a  cause  ?  I  answer — No  ; 
this  were  not  only  anger,  but  murmuring,  and  a  storming  against 
providence,  by  which  all  events,  that  are  to  us  casual,  are  determined. 
But  are  the  miscarriages  of  children  and  servants  a  cause  ?  I  answer — If 
it  be  in  spiritual  matters,  anger  justly  moderated  is  a  duty.  If  in  moral 
and  civil,  only  a  rational  and  temperate  displeasure  is  lawful.  For  it 

1  e'0pyi\ol,  TriKpol,  xd\eiroi.' — Arist.  Ethic.,  lib.  iv.  cap.  18. 

2  '  TLv0ayoptKol  ytvei  wStv  irporfKOvres,   dXXoi  KOIVOV  \6yov  ^er^vr^,  etirore  irpoaxOeiev 
ei's  \oi8oplav  VTT  opyijs,  irplv  rbv  ijKiov  dvvai  rds  5e£tds  ^SaXXovres  dXX^Xois  Kal  da"jracrdiJ.evoL 
SieXtfojTO. ' — Plutarch. 

3  '  Qui  exemplo  peccat  bis  peccat.' 

4  '  Qui  referre  injuriam  nititur,  eum  ipsum  a  quo  laesus  est  gestifc  imitari ;  et  qui 
malum  imitatur  bonus  ease  nullo  pacto  potest.'— Lactant.  de  Vero  Cultu,  lib.  6.  cap.  10. 

JAS.  I.  20.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  143 

is  but  a  natural  dislike  and  motion  of  the  soul  against  what  is  unhand 
some  and  troublesome.  But  we  must  see  that  we  regard  measure, 
and  time,  and  other  circumstances.  (4.)  Such  as  is  without  a  good 
end.  The  end  of  all  anger  must  be  the  correction  of  offences,  not  the 
execution  of  our  own  malice.  Always  that  anger  is  evil  which  hath 
somewhat  of  mischief  in  it,  which  aimeth  not  so  much  at  the  convic 
tion  and  reclaiming  of  an  offender  as  his  disgrace  and  confusion. 
The  stirring  of  the  spirit  is  not  sinful  till  revenge  mingle  with  it. 
Well,  then,  as  there  must  be  a  good  cause,  there  must  be  a  good  end. 
Cain  was  angry  with  Abel  without  a  cause,  and  therefore  his  anger 
was  wicked  and  sinful,  Gen.  iv.  5.  But  Esau  had  some  cause  to  be 
angry  with  Jacob,  and  yet  his  anger  was  not  excusable,  because 
there  was  mischief  and  revenge  in  it,  Gen.  xxvii.  41. 

Secondly,  My  next  work  is  to  show  you  how  sinful  it  is.  I  have 
been  larger  in  the  former  part  than  my  method  permitted  ;  I  shall  the 
more  contract  myself  in  this.  Consider  an  argument  or  two. 

1.  Nothing  maketh  room  for  Satan  more  than  wrath  :  Eph.   iv. 
26,  27,  '  Be  angry  and  sin  not ;'  and  it  followeth,  '  Give  not  place  to 
the  devil ;'  as  if  the  apostle  had  said,  If  you  give  place  to  wrath,  you 
will  give  place  to  Satan,  who  will  further  and  further  close  with  you. 
When  passions  are  neglected  they  are  ripened  into  habits,  and  then 
the  devil  hath  a  kind  of  right  in  us.     The  world  is  full  of  the  tragical 
effects  of  anger,  and  therefore,  when  it  is  harboured  and  entertained, 
you  do  not  know  what  may  be  the  issue  of  it. 

2.  It  much  woundeth  your  own  peace.     When  the  apostle  had 
spoken  of  the  sad  effects  of  anger,  he  added,  Eph.  iv.  30,  '  And  grieve 
not  the  Holy  Spirit,  by  which  you  are  sealed  to  the  day  of  redemption.' 
The  Spirit  cannot  endure  an  unquiet  mansion  and  habitation  :  wrath 
ful  and  fro  ward  spirits  usually  want  their  seal,  that  peace  and  establish 
ment  which  others  enjoy ;  for  the  violences  of  anger  do  not  only  dis 
compose  reason,  but  disturb  conscience.      The  Holy  Ghost  loveth  a 
sedate  and  meek  spirit ;  the  clamour  and  tumult  of  passion  frighteth 
him  from  us,  and  it  is  but  just  with  God  to  let  them  want  peace  of 
conscience  that  make  so  little  conscience  of  peace. 

3.  It  disparageth  Christianity :  the  glory  of  our  religion  lieth  in  the 
power  that  it  hath  to  sanctify  and  meeken  the  spirit.     Now  when  men 
that  profess  Christ  break  out  into  such  rude  and  indiscreet  excesses, 
they  stain  their  profession,  and  debase  faith  beneath  the  rate  of  reason, 
as  if  morality  could  better  cure  the  irregularities  of  nature  than  re 
ligion.     Heathens  are  famous  for  their  patience  under  injuries,  dis 
covered  not  only  in  their  sayings  and  rules  for  the  bridling  of  passion, 
but  in  their  practice.      Many  of  their  sayings  were  very  strict  and 
exact ;  for,  by  the  progressive  inferences  of  reason,  they  fancied  rules 
of  perfection,  but  indeed  looked  upon  them  as  calculated  for  talk, 
rather  than  practice.     But  when  I  find  them  in  their  lives  passing  by 
offences  with  a  meek  spirit,  without  any  disturbance  and  purposes  of 
revengeful  returns,  I  cannot  but  wonder,  and  be  ashamed  that  I  have 
less  command  and  rule  of  my  own  spirit  than  they  had,  having  so 
much  advantage  of  rule  and  motive  above  them.    As  when  I  read  that 
Lycurgus l  had  one  of  his  eyes  struck  out  by  an  insolent  young  man, 

1  Plutarch,  in  Vita  Lycurgi. 

144  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  20. 

and  yet  used  much  lenity  and  love  to  the  party  that  did  it,  how  can 
I  choose  but  blush  at  those  eager  prosecutions  that  are  in  my  own 
spirit  upon  every  light  distaste,  that  I  must  have  limb  for  limb,  tooth 
for  tooth,  and  cannot  be  quiet  till  I  have  returned  reviling  for  revil- 
in«-  ?  &c.  Certainly  I  cannot  dishonour  the  law  of  Christ  more  than 
to°do  less  than  they  did  by  the  law  of  nature. 

Ver.  21.  Wherefore  lay  apart  allfllthiness  and  superfluity  of  naugh 
tiness,  and  receive  with  meekness  the  ingrafted  word,  ivhich  is  able 
to  save  your  souls. 

The  apostle  having  formerly  spoken  of  the  power  of  the  word,  and 
from  thence  inferred  that  it  should  be  heard  willingly,  and  without 
a  cavilling  or  contradicting  spirit,  and  to  that  purpose  having  shown 
the  evil  of  wrath,  he  again  enforceth  the  main  exhortation  of  laying 
aside  all  wrathful  and  exulcerated  affections,  that  they  might  be  fitter 
to  entertain  the  word  with  an  honest  and  meek  heart,  for  their  comfort 
and  salvation.  There  is  in  the  verse  a  duty,  and  that  is,  '  receiving 
of  the  word;'  the  help  to  it,  and  that  is,  '  laying  aside'  evil  frames  of 
spirit.  Then  there  is  the  manner  how  this  duty  is  to  be  performed, 
'  with  meekness  ;'  then  the  next  end,  and  that  is  *  ingrafting  the  word  ;' 
then  the  last  end,  which  is  propounded  by  way  of  motive,  '  which  is 
able  to  save  your  souls.' 

Wherefore,  that  is,  because  wrath  is  such  an  hindrance  to  the  right 
eousness  which  God  requireth ;  or  it  may  be  referred  to  the  whole 
context,  upon  all  these  considerations. 

Lay  apart,  air 06 eleven. — The  force  of  the  word  implieth  we  should 
put  it  off  as  an  unclean  rag  or  worn  garment :  the  same  metaphor  is 
used  by  the  apostle  Paul :  Eph.  iv.  22,  '  That  ye  put  off  the  old  man, 
which  is  corrupt,  according  to  the  deceitful  lusts  ;'  and  Col.  iii.  8,  in  a 
very  like  case,  '  But  now  put  off  these,  anger,  malice,  wrath,  blasphemy, 
filthy  communication. 

All  filtliiness,  Traaav  pvTrapiav. — The  word  is  sometimes  put  for 
the  filthiness  of  ulcers,  and  for  the  nastiness  and  filth  of  the  body 
through  sweating,  and  is  here  put  to  stir  up  the  greater  abomination 
against  sin,  which  is  elsewhere  called  '  the  filth  of  the  flesh/  1  Peter 
iii.  21.  Some  suppose  the  apostle  intendeth  those  lusts  which  are  most 
beastly,  and  have  greatest  turpitude  in  them ;  but  either  the  sense 
must  be  more  general  to  imply  all  sin,  or  more  particularly  restrained 
to  filthy  and  evil  speaking,  or  else  it  will  not  so  well  suit  with  the 

And  superfluity  of  naughtiness,  rrjv  Trepicrcrelav  Kaicias. — It  may 
be  rendered  '  the  ovei£owing  of  malice ; '  and  so  it  noteth  scoffs,  and 
railings,  and  evil  speakings,  which  are  the  superfluity  of  that  in  which 
everything  is  superfluous ;  and  these  are  specified  in  a  parallel  place 
of  the  apostle  Peter,  1  Peter  ii.  1,  to  which  James  might  allude,  writ 
ing  after  him.  Beza  rendereth  it  'the  excrement  of  wickedness.' 
Some  make  it  an  allusion  to  the  garbage  of  the  sacrifices  in  the  brook 
.Kedron.  Most  take  it  generally  for  that  abundance  of  evil  and  filthi 
ness  that  is  in  the  heart  of  man". 

And  receive. — A  word  often  used  for  the  appropriation  of  the  word, 
and  admitting  the  power  of  it  into  our  hearts.  Eeceive,  that  is,  give 
it  more  way  to  come  to  you  ;  make  more  room  for  it  in  your  hearts. 

JAS.  I.  21.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  145 

Thus  it  is  charged  upon  them,  2  Thes.  ii.  10,  that  '  they  received  not 
the  love  of  the  truth.'  So  it  is  said  of  the  natural  man,  ov  Se^rai, 
*  He  receiveth  not  the  things  of  God/  This  is  a  notion  so  proper  to 
this  matter,  that  the  formal  act  of  faith  is  expressed  by  it,  John  i.  11, 
'  To  as  many  as  received  him/  &c. 

With  meekness  ;  that  is,  with  a  teachable  mind,  with  a  modest,  sub 
missive  spirit. 

The  ingrafted  tvord,  \6<yov  e^vrov. — Some  refer  it  to  reason, 
others  to  Christ,  but  with  much  absurdity ;  for  this  word  noteth  the 
end  and  fruit  of  hearing,  that  the  word  may  be  planted  in  us  ;  and  the 
apostle  showeth  that,  by  the  industry  of  the  apostles,  the  word  was 
not  only  propounded  to  them,  but  rooted  in  them  by  faith.  The  like 
metaphor  is  elsewhere  used  :  '  I  have  planted,'  1  Cor.  iii.  6,  that  is, 
God  by  his  means ;  and  the  metaphor  is  continued,  Col.  i.  6,  \6yos 
KapTTofopov/jievos,  a  phrase  that  noteth  the  flourishing  and  growing  of 
the  word  after  the  planting  of  it  in  the  soul. 

Which  is  able  to  save  ;  that  is,  instrumentally,  as  it  is  accompanied 
with  the  divine  grace  ;  for  the  gospel  is  '  the  power  of  God  unto  salva 
tion,'  Kom.  i.  16. 

Your  souls ;  that  is,  yourselves,  bodies  and  souls.  Salvation  is  attri 
buted  to  the  soul  by  way  of  eminency,  the  principal  part  being  put  for 
the  whole  :  Eom.  xiii.  1,  '  Let  every  soul  be  subject  to  the  higher 
powers,'  that  is,  every  person.  So  in  other  places  the  same  manner  of 
expression  is  used  in  this  very  matter  :  1  Peter  i.  9,  '  The  end  of  your 
faith,  the  salvation  of  your  souls ; '  so  Mat.  xvi.  20,  '  Lose  his  own 
soul,'  that  is,  himself.  In  such  forms  of  speech  the  body  is  not  ex 
cluded,  because  it  always  followeth  the  state  of  the  soul. 

The  notes  are  many  :  I  shall  be  the  briefer. 

Ols.  1.  From  that  laying  aside.  Before  we  come  to  the  word 
there  must  be  preparation.  They  that  look  for  the  bridegroom  had 
need  trim  up  their  lamps.  The  instrument  must  be  tuned  ere  it  can 
make  melody.  Hash  entering  upon  duties  is  seldom  successful.  God 
may  meet  us  unawares,  such  is  his  mercy  ;  but  it  is  a  great  adventure. 
The  people  were  to  wash  their  clothes  when  they  went  to  hear  the  law, 
Exod.  xix.  10.  Something  there  must  be  done  to  prepare  and  fix  the 
heart  to  seek  the  Lord,  2  Chron.  xx.  19  ;  Ps.  Ivi.  8.  Solomon  saith, 
'  Take  heed  to  thy  foot  when  thou  goest  into  the  house  of  God,'  Eccles. 
v.  1.  The  heathens  had  one  in  their  temples  to  remember  them  that 
came  to  worship  of  their  work  ;  he  was  to  cry,  Hoc  age.  Many  come 
to  hear,  but  they  do  not  consider  the  weight  and  importance  of  the 
duty.  Christ  saith,  Luke  viii.  18,  '  Take  heed  how  you  hear.'  It 
were  well  there  were  such  a  sound  in  men's  ears  in  the  times  of  their 
approaches  to  God  ;  some  to  cry  to  them,  '  Oh,  take  heed  how  you  hear/ 
It  is  good  to  be  '  swift  to  hear,'  but  not  to  be  rash  and  inconsiderate. 
Do  not  make  such  haste  as  to  forget  to  take  God  along  with  you.  You 
must  begin  duties  with  duties.1  Special  duties  require  a  special  setting 
apart  of  the  heart  for  God,  but  all  require  something.  Inconsiderate 
addresses  are  always  fruitless.  We  come  on,  and  go  off,  and  there  is 
all.  We  do  not  come  with  expectation,  and  go  without  satisfaction. 
Well,  then,  come  with  more  advised  care  when  you  come  to  wait  upon 

1  '  Iter  ad  pietatem  est  intra  pietatem. ' 
VOL.  IV.  K 

146  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  21. 

God  ;  look  to  your  feet,  and  come  prepared.     Let  me  speak  one  word 
by  way  of  caution,  and  another  by  way  of  direction. 

1.  By  way  of  caution.     (1.)  Do  not  exclude  God  out  of  your  pre 
parations.     Usually  men  mistake  in  this  matter,  and  hope  by  their 
own  care  to  work  themselves  into  a  fitness  of  spirit.     Preparation 
consisteth  much  in  laying  aside  evil  frames ;  and  before  you  lay  aside 
other  evil  frames,  lay  aside  self-confidence :  Prov.  xvi.  1,  '  The  pre 
parations  of  the  heart  in  man,  and  the  answer  of  the  tongue,  is  from 
the  Lord ; '  the  very  dispositions  and  motions  of  the  spirit  are  from 
him.     It  is  a  wrong  to  that  text  to  expound  it  so  as  if  the  preparation 
were  from  man  and  the  success  from  God  ;  both  are  from  the  Lord. 
God's  children  have  entered  comfortably  upon  duties,  when  they  have 
seen  God  in  their  preparations  :  Ps.  Ixxi.  16,  '  I  will  go  forth  in  the 
strength  of  God;'  that  is,  to  the  duty  of  praise,  as  is  clear  in  the 
context.     (2.)  Though  you  cannot  get  your  hearts  into  such  a  frame 
as  you  do  desire,  trust  God :  '  Faith  is  the  evidence  of  things  not 
seen/  Heb.  xi.  1 ;  and  that  help  which  is  absent  to  sense  and  feeling 
may  be  present  to  faith.     A  bell  may  be  long  in  rising,  but  it  ringeth 
loud  when  it  is  once  up.     You  do  not  know  how  God  may  come  in. 
The  eunuch  read,  and  understood  not,  and  God  sent  him  an  in 
terpreter,  Acts  viii.     When  you  begin  duty  you  are  dead  and  indis 
posed  ;  but  you  do  not  know  with  what  sensible  approaches  of  his 
grace  and  power  he  may  visit  you  ere  it  be  over.     It  is  not  good  to 
neglect  duty  out  of  discouragements ;  this  were  to  commit  one  sin  to 
excuse  another :  '  Say  not,  I  am  a  child/  Jer.  i.  6 :  'I  am  slow  of 
lips/     '  Who  made  the  mouth  ? '  Exod.  iv.  10,  11. 

2.  By  way  of  direction.     I  cannot  go  out  into  all  the  severals  of 
preparation,  how  the  heart  must  be  purged,  faith  exercised,  repentance 
renewed,  wants  and  weaknesses  reviewed,  God's  glory  considered,  the 
nature^  grounds,  and  ends  of  the  ordinances  weighed  in  our  thoughts. 
Only,  in  the  general,  so  much   preparation  there  must  be  as  will 
make  the  heart  reverent.     God  will  be  served  with  a  joy  mixed  with 
trembling :  the  heart  is  never  right  in  worship  till  it  be  possessed 
with  an  awe  of  God :  '  How  dreadful  is  this  place !  '  Gen.  xxviii.  17. 
And  again,  such  preparation  as  will  settle  the  bent  of  the   spirit 
heavenward.     It  is  said  somewhere,  '  They  set  themselves  to  seek  the 
Lord  ;  ^  and  David  saith,  Ps.  Ivii.  7,  '  My  heart  is  fixed,  my  heart  is 
fixed  ; '  that  is,  composed  to  a  heavenly  and  holy  frame.     And  again, 
such  preparation  as  will  make  you  come  humble  and  hungry.     Grace 
is^usually  given  to  the  desiring   soul :  '  He  hath  filled  the  hungry 
with  good  things/  Luke  i.  53.     Again,  such  as  erecteth  and  raiseth 
the  heart  into  a  posture  of  expectation.     It  is  often  said,  '  Be  it  to 
thee  according  to  thy  faith.'   They  that  look  for  nothing  find  nothing ; 
Uhnst  s  greater  things  are  for  those  that  believe,  John  i.  50. 

Obs.  ^  2.  Christian  preparation  consists  most  in  laying  aside  and  dis 
possessing  evil  frames.  Weeds  must  be  rooted  out  before  the  ground 
is  fit  to  receive  the  seed  :  <  Plough  up  your  fallow  ground,  and  sow  not 
among  thorns/  Jer.  iv.  3.  There  is  an  unsuitableness  between  a  filthy 
spirit  and  the  pure  holy  word ;  and  therefore  they  that  will  not  leave 
their  accustomed  sins  are  unfit  hearers.  The  matter  must  be  pre 
pared  ere  it  can  receive  the  form.  Some  translate  Paul's 

JAS.  I.  21.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  147 

eavrbv,  I  Cor.  xi.  28,  '  Let  him  purge  himself/  get  away  his  dross  and 
corruption.  All  this  showeth  the  need  of  renewing  repentance  before 
the  hearing  the  word ;  that  sin  being  dispossessed,  there  may  be 
room  for  the  entrance  of  grace.  Noxious  weeds  are  apt  to  grow 
again  in  the  best  minds ;  therefore,  as  the  leper  under  the  law  was 
still  to  keep  his  hair  shaven,  Lev.  xiv.,  so  should  we  cut  and  shave, 
that  though  the  roots  of  sin  remain,  yet  they  may  not  grow  and 
sprout.  There  is  an  extraordinary  vanity  in  some  men,  that  will  lay 
aside  their  sins  before  some  solemn  duties,  but  with  a  purpose  to 
return  to  the  folly  of  them ;  as  they  fable  the  serpent  layeth  aside  his 
poison  when  he  goeth  to  drink.  They  say  to  their  lusts  as  Abraham 
to  his  servants,  '  Tarry  you  here,  for  I  must  go  yonder  and  worship  ; 
I  will  come  again  to  you/  Gen.  xxii.  5.  They  do  not  take  an  ever 
lasting  farewell  of  their  sins.  But,  however,  they  are  wiser  than  those 
that  come  reeking  from  their  sins  into  God's  presence  :  this  is  to  dare 
him  to  his  face.  The  Jews  are  chidden  for  praying  with  their 
*  hands  full  of  blood/  Isa.  i.  15.  They  came  boldly,  before  they  had 
been  humbled  for  their  oppression :  '  If  her  father  had  spat  in  her  face, 
should  she  not  be  ashamed  seven  days?'  Num.  xii.  14.  After  great 
rebellions  there  should  be  a  solemn  humbling  and  purging.  What 
can  men  that  come  in  their  sins  expect  from  God  ?  Their  state  con- 
futeth  their  worship.  God  will  have  nothing  to  do  with  them,  and 
he  marvelleth  they  should  have  anything  to  do  with  him.  He  hath 
nothing  to  do  with  them  :  Job  viii.  20,  '  He  will  not  help  the  evil 
doers  ;'  in  the  original,  '  He  will  not  take  the  wicked  by  the  hand;' 
and  he  wondereth  you  should  have  anything  to  do  with  him :  '  What 
hast  thou  to  do  to  take  my  words  into  thy  mouth?'  Ps.  1.  16. 

Obs.  3.  From  the  word  laying  aside,  aTroOepevoi.  Put  it  off  as  a 
rotten  and  filthy  garment.  Sin  must  be  left  with  an  utter  detestation : 
Isa.  xxx.  22,  '  Thou  shalt  cast  them  away  as  a  menstruous  cloth ; 
thou  shalt  say,  Get  ye  hence/  Sin  is  often  expressed  by  abomination ; 
it  is  so  to  God,  it  should  be  so  to  men.  Faint  resistance  argueth 
some  inclination  of  the  mind  to  it.  Here  affections  should  be  drawn 
out  to  their  height ;  grief  should  become  contrition,  anger  should 
be  heightened  into  rage  and  indignation,  and  shame  should  be 
turned  into  confusion  ;  no  displeasure  can  be  strong  and  keen  enough 
for  sin. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  all.  We  must  not  lay  aside  sin  in  part  only, 
but  all  sin.  So  in  Peter,  the  particle  is  universal,  iraa-av  /carclav,  1 
Peter  ii.  1,  '  all  malice  : '  and  David  saith,  '  I  hate  every  false  way/  Ps. 
cxix.  True  hatred  is  ek  ra  yevrj^  to  the  whole  kind.  When  we 
hate  sin  as  sin,  we  hate  all  sin.  The  heart  is  most  sincere  when  the 
hatred  is  general.  The  least  sin  is  dangerous,  and  in  its  own  nature 
deadly  and  destructive.  Caesar  was  stabbed  with  bodkins.  We  read 
of  some  that  have  been  devoured  of  wild  beasts,  lions  and  bears ;  but 
of  others  that  have  been  eaten  up  of  vermin,  mice,  or  lice.  Pope 
Adrian  was  choked  with  a  gnat.  The  least  sins  may  undo  you.  You 
know  what  Christ  speaketh  of  a  little  leaven.  Do  not  neglect  the 
least  sins,  or  excuse  yourselves  in  any  Rimmon.  Carry  out  yourselves 
against  all  known  sins,  and  pray  as  he,  Job  xxxiv.  32,  '  That  which 

1  Arist.  Khet.  in  Pass.  od. 

148  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  21. 

I  see  not,  teach  thou  me ;  if  I  have  done  iniquity,  I  will  do  so  no 

Obs.  5.  From  that  word  fiWiiness.  Sin  is  filthiness  ;  it  snllieth  the 
glory  and  beauty  of  the  soul,  defaceth  the  image  of  God.  This 
expression  is  often  used,  '  Filthiness  of  flesh  and  spirit/  2  Cor.  vii. 
1,  where  not  only  gross  wickedness,  such  as  proceedeth  from  fleshly 
and  brutish  lusts,  is  called  filthiness,  but  such  as  is  more  spiritual, 
unbelief,  heresy,  or  misbelief,  &c.,  nay,  original  corruption  is  called 
so :  Job  xiv.  4,  '  Who  can  bring  a  clean  thing  out  of  an  unclean  ? ' 
so  Job  xv.  14,  '  How  can  man  be  clean  ? '  Nay,  things  glorious  in 
the  eyes  of  men.  Duties  they  are  called  dung,  because  of  the  iniquity 
that  is  found  in  them :  Mai.  ii.  3,  *  I  will  spread  dung  upon  your 
faces,  even  the  dung  of  your  solemn  feasts/  So  it  was  in  God's  eyes. 
The  Spirit  of  God  everywhere  useth  comparisons  taken  from  things 
that  are  most  odious,  that  our  hearts  may  be  wrought  into  the  greater 
detestation  of  sin.  Certainly  they  are  much  mistaken  that  think  sin 
an  ornament,  when  the  Spirit  of  God  calleth  it  dung  and  excrement. 
But  more  especially  I  find  three  sins  called  filthiness  in  scripture  : — 
(1.)  Covetousness,  because  it  debaseth  the  spirit  of  man,  and  maketh 
him  stoop  to  such  indecencies  as  are  beneath  humanity ;  so  it  is 
said,  '  filthy  lucre/  1  Peter  v.  2.  (2.)  Lust,  which  in  scripture 
dialect  is  called  filthiness,  or  the  sin  of  unclearmess,  1  Thes.  iv.  7, 
because  it  maketh  a  man  to  subject  or  submit  his  desires  to  the 
beasts'  happiness,  which  is  sensual  pleasures.  (3.)  In  this  place, 
anger  and  malice  is  called  filthiness.  We  please  ourselves  in  it,  but 
it  is  but  filthiness  ;  it  is  brutish  to  yield  to  our  rage  and  the  turbulent 
agitation  of  our  spirits,  and  not  to  be  able  to  withstand  a  provocation  ; 
it  is  worse  than  poison  in  toads  or  asps,  or  what  may  be  conceived  to 
be  most  filthy  in  the  creatures ;  poison  in  them  doth  hurt  others,  it 
cannot  hurt  themselves  ;  anger  may  not  hurt  others,  it  cannot  choose  but 
hurt  us.  Well,  then,  all  that  hath  been  said  is  an  engagement  to  us 
to  resist  sin,  to  detest  it  as  a  defilement ;  it  will  darken  the  glory  of 
our  natures.  There  are  some  '  spots  that  are  not  as  the  spots  of  God's 
children/  Deut.  xxxii.  5.  Oh !  let  us  get  rid  of  these  '  filthy  garments/ 
Zech.  iii.  4-6,  and  desire  change  of  raiment,  the  righteousness  of 
Christ.  Ay  !  but  there  are  some  lesser  sins  that  are  spots  too  :  '  The 
garment  spotted  by  the  flesh/  Jude  23  ;  unseemly  words  are  called 
'filthiness/  Eph.  v.  4,  and  duties  '  dung.' 

Obs.  6.  From  that  superfluity  of  wickedness.  That  there  is  abun 
dance  of  wickedness  to  be  purged  out  of  the  heart  of  man.  Such  a  ful 
ness  as  runneth  over,  a  deluge  of  sin :  Gen.  vi.  5,  '  All  the  imagina 
tions  of  the  heart  are  evil,  only  evil,  and  that  continually ; '  it  runneth 
out  into  every  thought,  into  every  desire,  into  every  purpose.  As 
there  is  saltness  in  every  drop  of  the  sea,  and  bitterness  in  every 
branch  of  wormwood,  so  sin  in  everything  that  is  framed  within  the 
soul.  Whatever  an  unclean  person  touched,  though  it  were  holy  flesh, 
it  was  unclean  ;  so  all  our  actions  are  poisoned  with  it.  Dan.  ix.  27, 
we  read  of  '  the  overspreading  of  abominations  ; '  and  David  saith, 
Ps.  xiv.,  *  They  are  all  become  vile,  and  gone  out  of  the  way  ; '  all, 
and  all  over.  In  the  understanding  there  are  filthy  thoughts  and 
purposes ;  there  sin  beginneth :  fish  stink  first  at  the  head.  In  the 

JAS.  I.  21.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  149 

will  filthy  motions ;  the  affections  mingle  with  filthy  objects.  The 
memory,  that  should  be  like  the  ark,  the  chest  of  the  law,  retaineth, 
like  the  grate  of  a  sink,  nothing  but  mud  and  filthiness.  The  con 
science  is  defiled  and  stained  with  the  impurities  of  our  lives  ;  the 
members  are  but  instruments  of  filthiness.  A  rolling  eye  provoketh 
a  wanton  fancy,  and  stirreth  up  unclean  glances :  2  Peter  ii.  14, 

*  Having  eyes  full  of  adultery  ; '  in  the  original,  //-ot^aX/So?,  '  full  of  the 
adulteress/     The  tongue  bewrayeth  the  rottenness  of  the  heart  in 
filthy  speaking.     Oh  !  what  cause  we  have  to  bless  God  that  there  is 
'a  fountain  opened  for  uncleanness,'  Zech.  xiii.  1.     Certainly  conver 
sion  is  not  an  easy  work,  there  is  such  a  mass  of  corruption  to  be  laid 

Obs.  7.  From  that  receive.  Our  duty  in  hearing  the  word  is  to 
receive  it.  See  places  in  the  exposition.  In  the  word  there  is  the 
hand  of  God's  bounty,  reaching  out  comfort  and  counsel  to  us ;  and 
there  must  be  the  hand  of  faith  to  receive  it.  In  receiving  there  is  an 
act  of  the  understanding,  in  apprehending  the  truth  and  musing  upon 
it.  So  Christ  saith,  Luke  ix.  44,  '  Let  these  sayings  sink  down  into 
your  minds/  Let  them  not  float  in  the  fancy,  but  enter  upon  the 
heart,  as  Solomon  speaketh  of  wisdom's  entering  into  the  heart,  Prov. 
ii.  10.  And  there  is  an  act  of  faith,  the  crediting  and  believing  faculty 
is  stirred  up  to  entertain  it.  So  the  apostle  saith,  '  mingled  with  faith 
in  the  hearing/  Heb.  iv.  2,  that  is,  mingled  with  our  heart,  or  closely 
applied  to  our  hearts.  And  there  is  an  act  of  the  will  and  affections 
to  embrace  and  lodge  it  in  the  soul,  which  is  called  somewhere  '  a 
receiving  the  truth  in  love/  when  we  make  room  for  it,  that  carnal 
affections  and  prejudices  may  not  vomit  and  throw  it  up  again.  Christ 
complaineth  somewhere  that  '  his  word  had  no  place  in  them,'  ov  x^Pav 
€%€i  ev,  it  cannot  find  any  room,  or  be  safely  lodged  in  you ;  but, 
like  a  hot  morsel  or  queasy  bit,  it  was  soon  given  up  again. 

Obs.  8.  The  word  must  be  received  with  all  meekness.  Christ  was 
anointed  to  preach  glad  tidings  to  the  meek,  Isa.  Ixi.  1.  They  have 
most  right  in  the  gospel.  The  main  business  will  be  to  show  what 
this  meekness  is.  Consider  its  opposites.  Since  the  fall  graces  are  best 
known  by  their  contraries.  It  excludeth  three  things: — (1.)  A  wrath 
ful  fierceness,  by  which  men  rise  in  a  rage  against  the  word.  When 
they  are  admonished,  they  revile.  Deep  conviction  provoketh  many 
times  fierce  opposition:  Jer.  vi.  10,  '  The  word  of  the  Lord  is  to  them  a 
reproach/  They  think  the  minister  raileth  when  he  doth  but  discover 
their  guilt  to  them.  (2.)  A  proud  stubbornness,  when  men  are  resolved 
to  hold  their  own ;  and  though  the  premises  fall  before  the  word,  yet 
they  maintain  the  conclusion  :  Jer.  ii.  25,  '  Kefrain  thy  foot  from  bare 
ness,  and  thy  throat  from  thirst ; '  that  is,  why  will  you  trot  to  Egypt 
for  help,  you  will  get  nothing  but  bareness  and  thirst ;  but  they  said, 

*  Strangers  have  we  loved,  and  them  will  we  follow ; '   that  is,  Say 
what  thou  wilt,  we  will  take  our  own  way  and  course.     So  Jer.  xliv. 
16, 17,  '  We  will  not  hearken  to  thee,  but  will  certainly  do  whatsoever 
goeth  out  of  our  own  mouth/     Men  scorn  to  strike  sail  before  the 
truth,  and  though  they  cannot  maintain  an  opposition,  yet  they  will 
continue  it.     (3.)  A  contentious  wrangling,  which  is  found  in  men  of  an 
unsober  wit,  that  scorn  to  captivate  the  pride  of  reason,  and  therefore 

150  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  21. 

stick  to  every  shift.  The  psalmist  saith,  Ps.  xxv.  8,  9,  *  He  will  teach 
sinners  the  way.  The  meek  he  will  guide  in  judgment ;  the  meek  he 
will  teach  his  way.'  Of  all  sinners,  God  taketh  the  meek  sinner  for 
his  scholar.  There  is  difficulty  enough  in  the  scriptures  to  harden 
the  obstinate.  Camero1  observeth  that  the  scriptures  are  so  penned 
that  they  that  have  a  mind  to  know  may  know ;  and  they  that  have  a 
mind  to  wrangle  may  take  occasion  enough  of  offence,  and  justly 
perish  by  the  rebellion  of  their  own  reason ;  for,  saith  he,  God  never 
meant  to  satisfy  liominibm  prcefracti  mgenii,  men  of  a  stubborn  and 
perverse  wit.  And  Tertullian2  had  observed  the  same  long  before 
him :  that  God  had  so  disposed  the  scriptures,  that  they  that  will  not 
be  satisfied  might  be  hardened.  Certain  we  are  that  our  Saviour 
Christ  saith,  Mark  iv.  11, 12,  that  '  these  things  are  done  in  parables, 
that  seeing  they  might  not  see,  nor  perceive  and  understand  ;'  that  is, 
for  a  just  punishment  of  wilful  blindness  and  hardness,  that  those  that 
would  not  see  might  not  see.  So  elsewhere  our  Lord  saith,  that  '  he 
that  will  do  the  will  of  God  shall  know  what  doctrine  is  of  God/  John 
vii.  17.  When  the  heart  is  meekened  to  obey  a  truth,  the  mind  is 
soon  opened  to  conceive  of  it. 

Secondly,  My  next  work  is  to  show  what  it  includeth.  (1.)  Humi 
lity  and  brokenness  of  spirit.  There  must  be  insection  before  insition, 
meekness  before  ingrafting.  Gospel  revivings  are  for  the  contrite 
heart,  Isa.  Ivii.  15.  The  broken  heart  is  not  only  a  tamed  heart,  but  a 
tender  heart,  and  then  the  least  touch  of  the  word  is  felt  :  '  Those 
that  tremble  at  my  word/  Isa.  Ixvi.  2.  (2.)  Teachableness  and  tract- 
ableness  of  spirit.  There  is  an  ingenuous  as  well  as  a  culpable  facility : 
'  The  wisdom  that  is  from  above  is  gentle,  and  easy  to  be  entreated/ 
James  iii.  17.  It  is  good  to  get  a  tractable  frame.  The  servants  of 
God  come  with  a  mind  to  obey ;  they  do  but  wait  for  the  discovery 
of  their  duty :  Acts  x.  33,  '  We  are  all  here  present  before  God,  to 
hear  the  things  that  are  commanded  thee  of  God/  They  came  not 
with  a  mind  to  dispute,  but  practise.  Oh  !  consider,  perverse  opposi 
tion  will  be  your  own  ruin.  It  is  said,  Luke  vii.  30,  '  They  rejected 
the  counsel  of  God/  but  it  was  '  against  themselves  ;'  that  is,  to  their 
own  loss.  So  Acts  xiii.  46,  '  Ye  put  it  from  you,  and  judge  yourselves 
unworthy  of  eternal  life/  Disputing  against  the  word,  it  is  a  judging 
yourselves ;  it  is  as  if,  in  effect,  you  should  say,  I  care  not  for  God, 
nor  all  the  tenders  of  grace  and  glory  that  he  maketh  to  me. 

Obs.  9.  The  word  must  not  only  be  apprehended  by  us,  but  planted 
in  us.  It  is  God's  promise  :  Jer.  xxxi.  33,  '  I  will  put  my  laws  in 
their  hearts,  and  write  them  in  their  inward  parts  ; '  that  is,  he  will 
enlighten  our  minds  to  the  understanding  of  his  will,  and  frame  our 
hearts  and  affections  to  the  obedience  of  it,  so  that  we  shall  not  only 
know  duty,  but  have  an  inclination  to  it,  which  is  the  true  ingrafting 
of  the  word.  Then  '  the  root  of  the  matter  is  within  us/  Job  xix.  28  ; 
that  is,  the  comfort  of  God's  promises  rooted  in  the  heart.  So  1  John 
iii.  9,  '  His  seed  abideth  in  him ;'  that  is,  the  seed  of  the  word  planted 
in  the  heart.  Look  to  it,  then,  that  the  word  be  ingrafted  in  you,  that 

1  Camer,  lib.  de  notis  verbi  Dei. 

2  *  Non  periclitor  dicere  ipsas  scripturas  ita  dispositas  esse,  ut  materiam  subministra- 
rent  hsereticis.'— Tertid. 

JAS.  I.  21.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  151 

it  do  not  fall  like  seed  on  the  stony  ground,  so  as  it  cannot  take  root. 
You  will  know  it  thus: — (1.)  If  it  be  ingrafted,  it  will  be  ^6709  /cap- 
7ro(t>opovijL€Vo$,  '  a  fruitful  word/  Col.  i.  6  ;  it  will  spring  up  in  your 
conversation;  the  'stalk  of  wickedness/  Ezek.  vii.  11,  will  not  grow  so 
much  as  the  word.  (2.)  The  graft  draweth  all  the  sap  of  the  stock  to 
itself.  All  your  affections,  purposes,  cares,  thoughts,  will  serve  the  word  : 
Rom.  vi.  17,  el?  ov  7rap€$66rjT€  TVTTOV  8^0/^775.  They  were  delivered 
over  into  the  stamp  and  mould  of  the  word  that  was  delivered  to 
them.  All  affections  and  motions  of  the  spirit  are  cast  into  the  mould 
of  religion. 

Obs.  10.  That  the  word  in  God's  hand  is  an  instrument  to  save  our 
souls.  It  is  sometimes  called '  the  word  of  truth/  at  other  times, '  the 
word  of  life  ;'  the  one  noteth  the  quality  of  it,  the  other  the  fruit  of 
it.  It  is  called  '  the  power  of  God/  Rom.  i.  16,  and  'the  arm  of  the 
Lord  :'  Isa.  liii.  1,  '  Who  hath  believed  our  report?  to  whom  is  the 
arm  of  the  Lord  revealed?'  By  our  report  God's  arm  is  conveyed 
into  the  soul.  The  use  to  which  God  hath  deputed  the  word  should 
beget  a  reverence  to  it.  The  gospel  is  a  saving  word ;  let  us  not 
despise  the  simplicity  of  it.  Gospel  truths  should  not  be  too  plain 
for  our  mouths,  or  too  stale  for  your  ears.  '  I  am  not  ashamed  of  the 
gospel/  saith  the  apostle,  '  for  it  is  the  power  of  God  to  salvation.' 

Obs.  11.  That  the  main  care  of  a  Christian  should  be  to  save  his 
soul.  This  is  propounded  as  an  argument  why  we  should  hear  the 
word  ;  it  will  save  your  souls.  Usually  our  greatest  care  is  to  gratify 
the  body.  Solomon  saith,  '  All  a  man's  labour  is  for  the  mouth ;'  that 
is,  to  support  the  body  in  a  decent  state.  Oh !  but  consider  this  is  but 
the  worser  part ;  and  who  would  trim  the  scabbard  and  let  the  sword 
rust  ?  Man  is  in  part  an  angel,  and  in  part  a  beast.  Why  should 
we  please  the  beast  in  us,  rather  than  the  angel  ?  In  short,  your 
greatest  fear  should  be  for  the  soul,  and  your  greatest  care  should  be 
for  the  soul.  Your  greatest  fear :  Mat.  x.  28,  '  Fear  not  them  that 
can  destroy  the  body,  but  fear  him  that  can  cast  both  body  and  soul 
into  hell  fire.'  There  is  a  double  argument.  The  body  is  but  the 
worser  part,  and  the  body  is  alone  ;  but  on  the  other  side,  the  soul  is 
the  more  noble  part,  and  the  state  of  the  body  dependeth  upon  the 
well  or  ill  being  of  the  soul :  he  is  '  able  to  cast  both  soul  and  body/ 
&c.,  and  therefore  it  is  the  greatest  imprudence  in  the  world,  out  of  a 
fear  of  the  body,  to  betray  the  soul.  So  your  greatest  care,  riches  and 
splendour  in  the  world,  these  are  the  conveniences  of  the  body,  and 
what  good  will  they  do  you,  when  you  come  to  be  laid  in  the  cold 
silent  grave  ?  Mat.  xvi.  26,  *  What  profit  hath  a  man,  if  he  win  the 
whole  world,  and  lose  his  own  soul  ? '  It  is  but  a  sorry  exchange 
that,  to  hazard  the  eternal  welfare  of  the  soul  for  a  short  fruition  of 
the  world.  So  Job  xxvii.  8,  '  What  is  the  hope  of  the  hypocrite, 
though  he  hath  gained,  when  God  taketh  his  soul  ?'  There  is  many 
a  carnal  man  that  pursueth  the  world  with  a  fruitless  and  vain 
attempt ;  they  '  rise  early,  go  to  bed  late,  eat  the  bread  of  sorrows ; ' 
yet  all  will  not  do.  But  suppose  they  have  gained  and  taken  the  prey 
in  hunting,  yet  what  will  it  profit  him  when  body  and  soul  must 
part,  and  though  the  body  be  decked,  yet  the  soul  must  go  into  misery 
and  darkness,  without  any  furniture  and  provision  for  another  life  ? 

152  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  22. 

what  hope  will  his  gain  minister  to  him  ?  Oh  !  that  we  were  wise  to 
consider  these  things,  that  we  would  make  it  our  work  to  provide  for 
the  soul,  to  clothe  the  soul  for  another  world,  that  we  would  wait  upon 
God  in  the  word,  that  our  souls  may  be  furnished  with  every  spiritual 
and  heavenly  excellency,  that  we  may  not  be  '  found  naked,'  saitli  the 
apostle,  2  Cor.  v.  3. 

Obs.  12.  That  they  that  have  received  the  word  must  receive  it  again  : 
though  it  were  ingrafted  in  them,  yet  receive  it  that  it  may  save  your 
souls.  God  hath  deputed  it  to  be  a  means  not  only  of  regeneration, 
but  salvation ;  and  therefore,  till  we  come  to  heaven,  we  must  use  this 
help.  They  that  live  above  ordinances,  do  not  live  at  all,  spiritually, 
graciously.  Painted  fire  needeth  no  fuel.  The  word,  though  it  be 
an  immortal  seed,  yet  needeth  constant  care  and  watering.  But  of 
this  before. 

Ver.  22.  But  be  ye  doers  of  the  ivord,  and  not  hearers  only,  deceiv 
ing  your  own  selves. 

This  verse  catcheth  hold  of  the  heel  of  the  former.  He  had  spoken 
of  the  fruit  of  the  word,  the  salvation  of  the  soul ;  that  it  may  be 
obtained,  he  showeth  that  we  should  not  only  hear,  but  practise. 

But  be  ye  doers  of  the  word;  that  is,  real  observers.  There  is  a 
sentence  of  Paul  that,  for  sound,  is  like  this,  but  is  indeed  quite  to 
another  sense :  Eom.  ii.  13,  '  For  not  the  hearers  of  the  law,  but  the 
doers,  are  just  before  God.'  Doer  is  there  taken  for  one  that  satisfieth 
the  law,  and  fulfilleth  it  in  every  tittle ;  for  the  apostle's  drift  is  to 
prove  that  the  Jews,  notwithstanding  their  privilege  of  having  the 
oracles  of  God  committed  to  them,  were  never  a  whit  the  nearer  j  usti- 
fication  before  God.  But  here,  by  doers  are  implied  those  that  receive 
the  work  of  the  word  into  their  hearts,  and  express  the  effect  of  it  in 
their  lives.  There  are  three  things  which  make  a  man  a  TTO^TT)?,  a 
doer  of  the  word — faith,  love,  and  obedience. 

And  not  hearers  only. — Some  neither  hear  nor  do  ;  others  hear,  but 
they  rest  in  it.  Therefore  the  apostle  doth  not  dissuade  from  hearing ; 
*  Hear/  saith  he,  but  '  not  only.' 

Deceiving,  TrapaXoyL&fjievoi. — The  word  is  a  term  of  art :  it  implieth 
a  sophistical  argument  or  syllogism,  which  hath  an  appearance  or 
probability  of  truth,  but  is  false  in  matter  or  form  ;  and  is  put  by  the 
apostle  to  imply  those  false  discourses  which  are  in  the  consciences  of 
men.  Paul  useth  the  same  word  to  imply  that  deceit  which  men 
impose  upon  others  by  colourable  persuasions :  Col.  ii.  4,  '  Let  no 
man  TrapdXoyify,  deceive  you  with  enticing  words.' 

Your  own  selves. — The  argument  receiveth  force  from  these  words. 
If  a  man  would  baffle  other  men,  he  would  not  put  a  paralogism  upon 
himself,  deceive  himself  in  a  matter  of  so  great  consequence.  Or 
else  it  may  be  a  monition ;  you  deceive  yourselves,  but  you  cannot 
deceive  God. 

The  notes  are  : — 

Obs.  l.^That  hearing  is  good,  but  should  not  be  rested  in.  The 
apostle  saith,  '  Be  not  hearers  only.'  Many  go  from  sermon  to  sermon, 
hear  much,  but  do  not  digest  it  in  their  thoughts.  The  Jews  were  much 
in  turning  over  the  leaves  of 'the  scriptures,  but  did  not  weigh  the  matter 
of  them:  therefore  I  suppose  our  Saviour  reproveth  them,  John  v/39, 

JAS.  I.  22.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  153 

'  You  search  the  scriptures.'  That  epevvare  there  seemeth  to  he 
indicative,  rather  than  imperative,  especially  since  it  followeth,  '  for 
in  them  ye  think  to  have  eternal  life.'  They  thought  it  was  enough 
to  be  busy  in  the  letter  of  the  scripture,  and  that  bare  reading  would 
yield  them  eternal  life  :  so  do  others  rest  in  hearing.  They  that  stay 
in  the  means  are  like  a  foolish  workman,  that  contenteth  himself  with 
the  having  of  tools.  It  is  a  sad  description  of  some  foolish  women, 
2  Tim.  iii.  7,  that  they  are  '  ever  learning,  and  never  coming  to  the 
knowledge  of  the  truth/  Much  hearing  will  increase  our  judgment, 
if  there  be  not  a  lively  impression  upon  our  hearts.  The  heart  of 
man  is  so  sottish,  that  they  content  themselves  with  the  bare  pre 
sence  of  the  ordinances  in  their  place  ;  it  is  satisfaction  enough  that 
they  *  have  aLevite  to  their  priest/  Judges  xvii.  13.  Others  content 
themselves  with  their  bare  presence  at  the  ordinances,  though  they 
do  not  feel  the  power  of  them. 

01)s.  2.  That  the  doers  of  the  word  are  the  best  hearers.  That  is 
good  when  we  hear  things  that  are  to  be  done,  and  do  things  that  are 
to  be  heard.  That  knowledge  is  best  which  is  most  practical,  and 
that  hearing  is  best  which  endeth  in  practice.  David  saith,  Ps.  cxix. 
105,  '  Thy  word  is  a  lantern  to  my  feet,  and  a  light  to  my  steps.' 
That  is  light  indeed  which  directeth  you  in  your  paths  and  ways. 
Mat.  vii.  24,  '  He  that  heareth  my  words,  and  doeth  them,  I  will  liken 
him  to  a  wise  builder.'  That  is  wisdom,  to  come  to  the  word  so  as  we 
may  go  away  the  better.  Divers  hearers  propound  other  ends.  Some 
come  to  the  word  that  they  may  judge  it ;  the  pulpit,  which  is  God's 
tribunal,  is  their  bar  ;  they  come  hither  to  sit  judges  of  men's  gifts 
and  parts  :  James  iv.  11,  '  Thou  art  not  a  doer  of  the  law,  but  a 
judge.'  Others  come  to  hear  pleasing  things,  to  delight  themselves  in 
the  elegancy  of  speech,  rarity  of  conceits,  what  is  finely  couched  and 
ordered,  not  what  is  proper  to  their  case.  This  is  not  an  act  of  religion 
so  much  as  curiosity,  for  they  coine  to  a  sermon  with  the  same  mind 
they  would  to  a  comedy  or  tragedy ;  the  utmost  that  can  be  gained 
from  them  is  commendation  and  praise  :  Ezek.  xxxiii.  32,  '  Thou  art 
to  them  as  a  lovely  song,  or  one  that  hath  a  pleasant  voice  ;  but  they 
hear  thy  words,  and  do  them  not:'  they  were  taken  with  the  tinkling 
and  tunableness  of  the  expressions,  but  did  not  regard  the  heavenly 
matter.  So,  that  fond  woman  suddenly  breaketh  out  into  a  commen 
dation  of  our  Lord,  but,  it  seemeth,  regarded  the  person  more  than  the 
doctrine :  Luke  xi.  27,  '  Blessed  is  the  womb  that  bare  thee,  and  the 
paps  that  gave  thee  suck  ; '  for  which  our  Saviour  correcteth  her  in  the 
next  verse,  '  Yea,  rather  blessed  are  they  that  hear  the  word  of  God, 
and  keep  it.'  You  are  mistaken  ;  the  end  of  preaching  is  not  to  exalt 
men,  but  God.  You  will  say  An  excellent  sermon  1  But  what  do  you 
gain  by  it  ?  The  hearer's  life  is  the  preacher's  best  commendation,  2 
Cor.  iii.  1 ,  2.  They  that  praise  the  man  but  do  not  practise  the 
matter,  are  like  those  that  taste  wines  that  they  may  commend  them, 
not  buy  them.  Others  come  that  they  may  better  their  parts,  and 
increase  their  knowledge.  Every  one  desireth  to  know  more  than 
another,  to  set  up  themselves ;  they  do  so  much  excel  others  as  they 
excel  them  in  knowledge :  and  therefore  we  are  all  for  notions  and 
head-light,  little  for  that  wisdom  that  '  entereth  upon  the  heart/ 

154  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  22. 

Prov.  ii.  10,  and  serveth  to  better  the  life  ;  like  children  in  the 
rickets,  that  have  big  heads  but  weak  joints :  this  is  the  disease  of 
this  age.  There  is  a  great  deal  of  curious  knowledge,  airy  notions, 
but  practical  saving  truths  are  antiquated  and  out  of  date.  Seneca 
observed  of  the  philosophers,  that  when  they  grew  more  learned  they 
were  less  moral.1  And  generally  we  find  now  a  great  decay  of  zeal, 
with  the  growth  of  notion  and  knowledge,  as  if  the  waters  of  the 
sanctuary  had  put  out  the  fire  of  the  sanctuary,  and  men  could  not  be 
at  the  same  time  learned  and  holy.  Others  hear  that  they  may  say 
they  have  heard ;  conscience  would  not  be  pacified  without  some 
worship  :  *  They  come  as  my  people  use  to  do/  Ezek.  xxxiii.  31  ;  that 
is,  according  to  the  fashion  of  the  age.  Duties  by  many  are  used  as  a 
sleepy  sop  to  allay  the  rage  of  conscience. 

The  true  use  of  ordinances  is  to  come  that  we  may  profit.  Usually 
men  speed  according  to  their  aim  and  expectation  :  '  Desire  the  sincere 
milk  of  the  word,  that  ye  may  grow  thereby/  1  Peter  ii.  2.  So  David 
professeth  his  aim,  Ps.  cxix.  11,  '  Thy  word  have  I  hid  in  my  heart, 
that  I  might  not  sin  against  thee/  The  mind,  like  the  ark,  should  be 
the  chest  of  the  law,  that  we  may  know  what  to  do  in  every  case,  and 
that  truths  may  be  always  present  with  us,  as  Christians  find  it  a 
great  advantage  to  have  truths  ready  and  present,  to  talk  with  them 
upon  all  occasions,  Prov.  vi.  21,  22.  Oh!  it  is  sweet  when  we  and 
our  reins  can  confer  together,  Ps.  xvi.  7. 

If  you  cannot  find  present  profit  in  what  you  hear,  consider  how  it 
may  be  useful  kfor  you  to  the  future.  Things  I  confess  are  not  so 
acceptable  when  they  do  not  reach  the  present  case ;  but  they  have 
their  season,  and  if  come  to  you,  you  may  bless  G-od  that  ever  you 
were  acquainted  with  them :  Isa.  xlii.  23,  '  Who  will  hearken  and 
hear  for  the  time  to  come  ? '  You  may  be  under  terrors,  and  under 
miseries,  and  then  one  of  these  truths  will  be  exceeding  refreshing  ;  or 
you  may  be  liable  to  such  or  such  snares  when  you  come  to  be  engaged 
in  the  world,  or  versed  in  such  employments,  therefore  treasure  up 
every  truth  of  God  :  provision  argueth  wisdom  ;  it  may  concern  you 
in  time.  Jer.  x.  11,  the  prophet  teacheth  them  how  they  should 
defend  their  religion  in  Babylon;  therefore  that  sentence  is  in  Chaldee, 
that  he  might  put  words  in  their  mouths,  against  they  came  to  con 
verse  with  the  Chaldeans  :  '  Thus  shall  ye  say  to  them,  The  gods  that 
made  not  the  heavens  and  the  earth,  they  shall  perish  from  the  earth/ 
It  is  good  to  provide  for  Babylon  whiles  we  are  in  Sion,  and  not  to 
reject  truths  as  not  pertinent  to  our  case,  but  to  reserve  them  for 
future  use  and  profit. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  irapaXoyitpjjbevoL  Do  not  cheat  yourselves  with 
a  fallacy  or  false  argument.  Observe,  that  self-deceit  is  founded  in 
some  false  argumentation  or  reasoning.  Conscience  supplieth  three 
offices — of  a  rule,  a  witness,  and  a  judge  ;  and  so  accordingly  the  act 
of  conscience  is  threefold.  There  is  a-vvrrjprjtw,  or  a  right  apprehen 
sion  ^of  the  principles  of  religion ;  so  conscience  is  a  rule  :  there  is 
ffwe&qo-ts,  a  sense  of  our  actions  compared  with  the  rule  or  known 
will  of  God,  or  a  testimony  concerning  the  proportion  or  disproportion 
that  our  actions  bear  with  the  word :  then,  lastly,  there  is  tcpum,  or 

1  '  Boni  esse  desierunt  simul  ac  docti  evaserint.' — Seneca. 

JAB.  I.  22.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  155 

judgment,  by  which  a  man  applieth  to  himself  those  rules  of  Chris 
tianity  which  concern  his  fact  or  state.  All  these  acts  of  conscience 
may  be  reduced  into  a  syllogism  or  argument.  As  for  instance  :  he 
that  is  wholly  carnal  hath  no  interest  in  Christ ;  there  is  the  first  act, 
knowledge :  but  I  am  wholly  carnal ;  there  is  the  second  act,  con 
science  :  therefore  I  have  no  interest  in  Christ ;  there  is  the  third  act, 
judgment.  The  first  act  of  conscience  maketh  the  proposition,  the 
second  the  assumption,  the  third  the  conclusion.  Now  all  self-deceit 
is  in  one  of  these ;  propositions.  Sometimes  conscience  is  out  as  a  law  in 
the  very  principles  ;  sometimes  as  a  witness  in  the  assumption ;  some 
times  as  a  judge  it  suspendeth  and  hideth  the  conclusion.  Sometimes, 
I  say,  it  faileth  as  a  law,  by  making  an  erroneous  principle  to  be  the 
bottom  of  a  strong  hope  ;  as  here,  the  principle  is  naught :  '  They  that 
hear  the  word  shall  be  saved.'  At  other  times  it  erreth  in  the  appli 
cation  of  the  rule ;  as  1  John  i.  6,  '  If  we  say  that  we  have  fellowship 
with  him,  and  walk  in  darkness,  we  lie,  and  do  not  the  truth ;'  so  1 
John  ii.  4.  The  principle  was  right, '  They  that  have  communion  with 
God  are  happy ;'  but  '  We  have  communion  with  God/  that  was  false, 
because  they  walked  in  darkness.  So  as  a  judge  it  doth  not  pass  sen 
tence,  but  out  of  self-love  forbeareth  to  judge  of  the  quality  of  the 
action  or  state,  that  the  soul  may  not  be  affrightened  with  the  danger 
of  it.  You  see  the  deceit ;  how  shall  we  help  it  ?  I  answer  severally 
to  all  these  acts  and  parts  of  conscience  :— 

First,  That  you  may  build  upon  right  principles: — (1.)  It  is  good 
to  '  hide  the  word  in  our  hearts/  and  to  store  the  soul  with  sound 
knowledge,  and  that  will  always  rise  up  against  vain  hopes ;  as  he  that 
would  get  weeds  destroyed  must  plant  the  ground  with  contrary  seeds. 
When  there  is  much  knowledge,  your  own  reins  will  chasten  you ; 
and  those  sound  principles  will  be  talking  to  you,  and  speaking 
by  way  of  check  and  denial  to  your  sudden  and  rash  presumptions : 
'  Bind  the  law  to  thine  heart,  and  when  thou  wakest  it  shall  talk  to 
thee/  Prov.  vi.  22.  (2.)  In  the  witnessing  of  conscience  observe  the 
reason  of  it,  and  let  the  principle  be  always  in  sight :  do  not  credit  a 
single  testimony  without  a  clear  rule  or  positive  ground.  .  A  corrupt 
conscience  usually  giveth  in  a  bare  report,  because  the  grounds  are 
so  slender  and  insufficient  that  they  come  least  in  sight ;  for  upon  a 
trial  conscience  would  be  ashamed  of  them  :  as,  for  instance,  this  is 
the  report  of  conscience,  Sure  I  am  in  a  good  condition :  now  ask 
why  ?  and  the  conscience  will  be  ashamed  of  the  paralogism  in  the 
text — I  hear  the  word,  make  much  of  good  ministers,  &c.  And  yet 
this  is  the  secret  and  inward  thought  of  most  men,  upon  which  they 
build  all  their  hopes ;  whereas  true  grounds  are  open  and  clear,  and 
are  urged  together  with  the  report,  and  so  beget  a  firm  and  steady 
confidence  in  the  spirit;  as  1  John  ii.  3,  '  Hereby  we  are  sure  we  know 
him/  that  is,  enjoy  him,  have  communion  with  him ;  for  knowing 
there  is  knowing  him  by  sense  and  experience.  Now  whence  did  this 
confidence  arise  ?  You  shall  see  from  an  open  and  clear  ground  :  We 
are  sure  (saith  he)  because  'We  keep  his  commandments/  (3.)  The 
grounds  upon  which  conscience  goeth  should  be  full  and  positive. 
There  are  three  sorts  of  marks  laid  down  in  scripture  :  some  are  only 
exclusive,  others  inclusive  :  and  between  these  a  middle  sort  of  marks, 

156  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  22. 

which  I  may  call  positive.  For  exclusive  marks,  their  intent  is  to  deceive 
<i  false  hope,  or  to  shut  out  bold  pretenders,  by  showing  them  how  far 
they  come  short  of  an  interest  in  Christ;  and  usually  they  are  taken  from 
a  necessary  common  work,  as  hearing  the  word,  praying  in  secret, 
attendance  upon  the  ordinances ;  he  that  doth  not  these  things  is  cer 
tainly  none  of  God's :  but  in  case  he  doth  them,  he  cannot  conclude  his 
estate  to  be  gracious.  It  is  the  paralogism  mentioned  in  the  text,  to  reason 
from  negative  marks  and  the  common  works  of  Christianity.  It  is 
true,  all  go  not  so  far ;  therefore  Athanasius  wished  utinam  omnes 
essent  liypocritcv — would  to  God  that  all  were  hypocrites,  and  could  un 
dergo  the  trial  of  these  exclusive  marks.  All  are  not  diligent  hearers ; 
but,  however,  it  is  not  safe  to  be  hearers  only.  But,  then,  there  are  other 
marks  which  are  inclusive,  which  are  laid  down  to  show  the  measures  and 
degrees  of  grace,  and  are  rather  intended  for  comfort  than  conviction, 
which,  if  they  are  found  in  us,  we  are  safe,  and  in  the  state  of  grace  ; 
but  if  not,  we  cannot  conclude  a  nullity  of  grace.  Thus  faith  is  often 
described  by  such  effects  as  are  proper  to  the  radiancy  and  eminent 
degree  of  it,  and  promises  are  made  to  such  or  such  raised  operations 
of  other  graces.  The  use  of  these  notes  is  to  comfort,  or  to  convince 
of  want  of  growth.  But,  again,  there  is  a  middle  sort  of  marks 
between  both  these,  which  I  call  positive  ;  and  they  are  such  as  are 
always  and  only  found  in  a  heart  truly  gracious,  because  they  are 
such  as  necessarily  infer  the  inhabitation  of  the  Spirit,  and  are  there 
where  grace  is  at  the  lowest.  Such  the  apostle  calleth  ra  e^o^em 
T>}?  crwTTjpias,  Heb.  vi.  9,  '  Things  that  accompany  salvation ,'  or 
which  necessarily  have  salvation  in  them,  the  sure  symptoms  of  a 
blessed  estate.  He  had  spoken  before  of  a  common  work,  enlightening, 
and  slight  tastes  and  feelings,  ver.  4-6.  But,  saith  he,  '  We  are  per 
suaded  better  things  of  you,'  and  that  you  have  those  necessary  evidences 
to  which  salvation  is  infallibly  annexed.  Now,  these  must  be  by  great 
care  collected  out  of  the  word,  that  we  may  be  sure  the  foundation  and 
principle  is  right. 

Secondly,  That  conscience  as  a  witness  may  not  fail  you,  take  these 
rules : — (1.)  Note  the  natural  and  first  report  of  it  ere  art  hath  passed 
upon  it.  Sudden  and  indeliberate  checks  at  the  word,  or  in  prayer, 
being  the  immediate  births  of  conscience,  have  the  less  of  deceit  in 
them.  I  have  observed  that  the  deceitfulness  that  is  in  a  wicked  man'fe 
heart  is  not  so  much  in  the  testimony  itself  of  his  conscience,  as  in 
the  many  shifts  and  evasions  he  useth  to  avoid  the  sense  of  it.  Every 
sinner's  heart  doth  reproach  and  condemn  him ;  but  all  their  art  is 
how  to  choke  this  testimony,  or  slight  it.  You  know  the  apostle  John 
referreth  the  whole  decision  of  all  doubts  concerning  our  estate  to  con 
science,  1  John  iii.  20,  21.  For  certainly  the  first  voice  of  conscience 
is  genuine  and  unfeigned ;  for  it  being  privy  to  all  our  actions,  cannot 
but  give  a  testimony  concerning  them ;  only  we  elude  it.  And  there 
fore  let  wicked  men  pretend  what  peace  they  will,  their  consciences 
witness  rightly  to  them ;  and  were  it  not  for  those  sleights  by  which 
they  put  it  off,  they  might  soon  discern  their  estate.  The  apostle 
saith,  they  are  '  all  their  lifetime  subject  to  bondage/  Heb.  ii.  15. 
They  have  a  wound  and  torment  within  them,  which  is  not  always 
felt,  but  soon  awakened,  if  they  were  true  to  themselves.  The  arti- 

JAS.  I.  22.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  157 

ficial  and  second  report  of  conscience  is  deceitful  and  partial,  when 
it  hath  been  flattered  or  choked  with  some  carnal  sophisms  and 
principles.  But  the  first  and  native  report,  which  of  a  sudden  pinch- 
eth  like  a  stitch  in  the  side,  is  true  and  faithful.  (2.)  Wait  upon  the 
word.  One  main  use  of  it  is  to  help  conscience  in  witnessing,  and 
to  bring  us  and  our  hearts  acquainted  with  one  another :  Heb.  iv. 
12,  '  The  word  is  quick  and  powerful,  a  discerner  of  the  thoughts 
and  intents  of  the  heart;'  it  revealeth  all  those  plots  and  dis 
guises  by  which  we  would  hide  our  actions  from  our  own  privity 
and  conscience.  He  saith  there,  it  '  divideth  between  soul  and  spirit.' 
The  soul  cleaveth  to  sin,  and  the  spirit,  or  mind,  plotteth  pretences 
to  hide  it ;  but  the  word  discovereth  all  this  self-deceiving  sophistry. 
So  1  Cor.  xiv.  25,  '  The  secrets  of  his  heart  are  made  manifest : '  that 
is,  to  himself,  by  the  conviction  of  the  word.  (3.)  Ascite  conscience, 
and  call  it  often  into  the  presence  of  God :  1  Peter  iii.  21,  '  The 
answer  of  a  good  conscience  towards  God.'  Will  it  witness  thus  to  the 
all-seeing  God  ?  When  Peter's  sincerity  was  questioned  he  appeal eth  to 
Christ's  omnisciency :  John  xxi.  17,  'Lord,  thou  knowest  all  things, 
and  thou  knowest  that  I  love  thee/  Can  you  appeal  to  God's  omni 
sciency,  and  assure  your  hearts  before  him  ?  So  1  John  iii.  20,  '  If 
our  hearts  condemn  us,  God  is  greater  than  conscience,  and  knoweth 
all  things.'  God's  omnisciency  is  there  mentioned,  because  that  is  the 
solemn  attribute  to  which  conscience  appealeth  in  all  her  verdicts, 
which  are  the  more  valid  when  they  can  be  avowed  before  the  God 
that  knoweth  all  things. 

Thirdly,  That  conscience  may  do  its  office  as  a  judge,  you  must  do 
this : — (1.)  When  conscience  is  silent,  suspect  it ;  it  is  naught ;  we  are 
careless,  and  our  heart  is  grown  senseless  and  stupid  with  pleasures. 
A  dead  sea  is  worse  than  a  raging  sea.  It  is  not  a  calm  this,  but  a 
death.  A  tender  conscience  is  always  witnessing ;  and  therefore,  when 
it  never  saith,  What  have  I  done  ?  it  is  a  sign  it  is  seared.  Tkere  is 
a  continual  parley  between  a  godly  man  and  his  conscience  ;  it  is  either 
suggesting  a  duty,  or  humbling  for  defects ;  it  is  their  daily  exercise 
to  judge  themselves.  As  God  after  every  day's  work  reviewed  it,  and 
'saw  that  it  was  good,'  Gen.  i,  so  they  review  each  day,  and  judge  of 
the  actions  of  it.  (2.)  If  conscience  do  not  speak  to  you,  you  must 
speak  to  conscience.  David  biddeth  insolent  men,  Ps.  iv.  4,  to  '  com 
mune  with  their  hearts,  and  be  still.'  Take  time  to  parley,  and  speak 
with  yourselves.  The  prophet  complaineth,  Jer.  viii.  6,  '  No  man 
asketh  himself,  What  have  I  done  ? '  There  should  be  a  time  to  ask 
questions  of  our  own  souls.  (3.)  Upon  every  doubt  bring  things  to 
some  issue  and  certainty.  Conscience  will  sometimes  lisp  out  half  a 
word.  Draw  it  to  a  full  conviction.  Nothing  maketh  the  work  of 
grace  so  doubtful  and  litigious  as  this,  that  Christians  content  them 
selves  with  semi- persuasions,  and  do  not  get  the  case  fully  cleared  one 
way  or  another.  The  Spirit  delighteth  in  a  full  and  plenary  convic 
tion  :  John  xvi.  8,  eXeyfet,  '  He  shall  convince  the  world  of  sin,  of 
righteousness,  and  of  judgment.'  Conviction  is  a  term  of  art ;  it  is 
done  when  things  are  laid  down  so  clearly  that  we  see  it  is  impossible 
it  should  be  otherwise.1  Now  this  the  Spirit  doth,  whether  it  be  in  a 

1  '  Td  /XT?  dwarov  fiXXws  Zx.eiv>  «^'  forus  u>s  ^ue?s  X^o/ier,'  &c. — Arist.  Org. 

158  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  23,  24. 

state  of  sin  or  righteousness.  God  saith  he  would  deal  with  his 
people  so  roundly,  '  that  they  might  remember,  and  not  open  their 
mouth  any  more  for  shame/  Ezek.  xvi.  63 ;  that  is,  leave  them  so 
convinced,  that  they  might  not  have  a  word  to  say  but '  Unclean  !  un 
clean  ! '  It  is  good  upon  every  doubt  to  follow  it  so  close  that  it  may 
be  brought  to  a  certain  and  determinate  issue. 

Obs.  4.  That  men  are  easily  deceived  into  a  good  opinion  of  them 
selves  by  their  bare  hearing.  We  are  apt  to  pitch  upon  the  good  that  is 
in  any  action,  and  not  to  consider  the  evil  of  it :  I  am  a  hearer  of  the 
word,  and  therefore  I  am  in  a  good  case.  Christ's  similitude  implieth 
that  men  build  upon  their  hearing,  and  make  it  the  foundation  of  their 
hopes,  Mat.  vii.  24,  to  the  end.  Watch  over  this  deceit ;  such  a 
weighty  structure  should  not  be  raised  upon  so  sandy  a  foundation. 
(1.)  Consider  the  danger  of  such  a  self-deceit :  hearing  without 
practice  draweth  the  greater  judgment  upon  you.  Uriah  carried 
letters  to  Joab,  and  he  thought  the  contents  were  for  his  honour  and 
preferment  in  the  army,  but  it  was  but  the  message  of  his  own  destruc 
tion.  We  hear  many  sermons,  and  think  to  come  and  urge  this  to 
God  ;  but  out  of  those  sermons  will  God  condemn  us.  (2.)  Consider 
how  far  hypocrites  may  go  in  this  matter.  They  may  sever  themselves 
from  following  errors,  and  hear  the  word  constantly:  Luke  vi.  47, 
'  Whosoever  cometh  to  me,'  &c.  They  may  approve  of  the  good  way, 
and  applaud  it :  '  Blessed  is  the  womb  that  bare  thee,  and  the  paps  that 
gave  thee  suck,'  &c.,  Luke  xi.  27,  28.  They  may  hold  out  a  great 
deal  of  glavering  and  false  affection  :  Luke  vi.  46,  '  Why  call  ye  me 
Lord,  Lord,  and  do  not  the  things  which  I  say  ? '  They  may  be  en 
dowed  with  church  gifts  of  prophecy  and  miracles,  be  able  to  talk  and 
discourse  savourily  of  the  things  of  God,  do  much  for  the  edification  of 
others :  '  Many  will  say  to  me  in  that  day,'  &c.,  Mat.  vii.  22.  They 
may  have  a  vain  persuasion  of  their  faith  and  interest  in  Christ :  they 
will  say,  '  Lord,  Lord/  Mat.  vii.  21.  They  may  make  some  progress 
in  obedience,  abstain  from  grosser  sins,  and  things  publicly  odious : 
'  Herod  did  many  things,'  Mark  vi. ;  and  Christ  saith,  '  Every  tree  that 
bringeth  not  forth  good  fruit/  &c.,  Mat.  vii.  19.  There  must  be  some 
thing  positive.  There  may  be  some  external  conformity ;  ay  !  but 
there  is  no  effectual  change  made  ;  '  the  tree  is  not  good/  Mat.  vii.  18. 
Well,  therefore,  outward  duties  with  partial  reformation  will  not  serve 
the  turn.  (3.)  Consider  the  easiness  of  deceit :  Jer.  xvii.  9,  '  The 
heart  of  man  is  deceitful  above  all  things ;  who  can  find  it  out  ? ' 
Who  can  trace  and  unravel  the  mystery  of  iniquity  that  is  in  the  soul  ? 
Since  we  lost  our  uprightness  we  have  many  inventions,  Eccles.  vii.  29, 
shifts  and  wiles  whereby  to  avoid  the  stroke  of  conscience  :  they  are 
called,  Prov.  xx.  27,  '  the  depths  of  the  belly.'  Look,  as  in  the  belly 
the  inwards  are  folded,  and  rolled  up  within  one  another,  so  are  there 
turnings  and  crafty  devices  in  the  heart  of  man. 

Yer.  23,  24,  For  if  any  be  a  hearer  of  the  ivord,  and  not  a  doer, 
he  is  like  to  a  man  beholding  his  natural  face  in  a  glass :  for  he  be- 
holdeth  himself,  and  goeth  his  way,  and  straightway  forgetteth  what 
manner  of  man  he  was. 

Here  James  amplifieth  the  former  reason,  which  was  taken  from 
the  vanity  and  unprofitableness  of  bare  hearing,  by  a  similitude  taken 
from  a  man  looking  in  a  glass. 

JAS.  I.  23,  24.]         UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  159 

If  any  be  a  hearer  of  the  luord  and  not  a  doer  ;  that  is,  contenteth 
himself  with  bare  hearing,  or  bare  knowing  the  word  of  God,  and  doth 
not  come  away  with  impulses  of  zeal,  and  resolutions  of  obedience. 

Is  like  a  man  : — In  the  original  it  is  dvSpl,  a  word  proper  to  the 
masculine  sex,  and  therefore  some  frame  a  criticism.  The  apostle 
doth  not  say,  '  like  a  woman /  they  are  more  diligent  and  curious. 
They  view  themselves  again  and  again,  that  they  may  do  away  every 
spot  and  deformity.  But  this  is  more  witty  than  solid.  The  apostle 
useth  av^p  promiscuously  for  man  and  woman,  as  ver.  12,  '  Blessed 
is  the  man  that  endureth  temptation,'  the  man  or  woman :  only  the 
masculine  sex  is  specified,  as  most  worthy. 

That  beholdeth  his  natural  face,  TO  irpoa-aTrov  TJ}?  yevecrca)?,  l  the 
face  of  his  nativity.' — What  is  intended  by  that  ?  Some  say,  the  face 
as  God  made  it  at  its  birth,  that  he  may  behold  God's  work  in  it,  and 
so  take  occasion  to  condemn  painting,  and  the  artificial  cerusse  and 
varnish  of  the  face ;  or  his  natural  face,  upon  which  men  bestow  least 
care.  In  painting,  there  is  more  exactness  :  or  natural  face,  as  import 
ing  a  glance,  as  a  man  passeth  by  a  glass,  and  seeth  that  he  hath  the 
face  of  a  man,  not  exactly  surveying  the  several  lineaments.  Others 
think  the  apostle  hinteth  the  thing  intended  by  the  similitude — our 
natural  and  original  deformity — represented  in  the  words,  and  that  he 
complicateth  and  foldeth  up  the  thing  signified  with  the  expressions 
of  the  similitude  ;  but  that  seemeth  forced.  I  suppose,  by  '  natural 
face/  he  meaneth  his  own  face,  the  glass  representing  the  very  face 
which  nature  gave  him. 

He  goeth  his  ivay,  and  straightway  for getteth  ivhat  manner  of  man 
he  was. — He  forgetteth  the  fashion  of  his  countenance,  the  spots  re 
presented  therein,  and  so  fitly  noteth  those  weak  impressions  which 
the  discoveries  of  the  word  leave  upon  a  careless  soul,  who,  after  his 
deformity  is  represented,  is  not  affected  with  it  so  as  to  be  brought  to 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

01)s.  1.  That  the  word  of  God  is  a  glass.  But  what  doth  it  show 
us  ?  I  answer— (1.)  God  and  Christ :  2  Cor.  iii.  18,  '  We  all  with  an 
open  face  behold  as  in  a  glass  the  glory  of  the  Lord,  and  are  changed 
into  the  same  image  from  glory  to  glory/  A  glass  implieth  the  clear 
est  representation  that  we  are  capable  of  here  upon  earth.  I  confess 
a  glass  is  sometimes  put  for  a  dark  vision ;  as  1  Cor.  xiii.  12,  '  Now 
we  see  but  as  in  a  glass,  darkly  ;  but  then  we  shall  see  face  to  face/ 
Then  we  shall  see  God  himself :  1  John  iii.  2,  '  We  shall  see  God  as 
he  is.'  But  here  we  have  his  image  and  reflection  in  the  word  :  as 
sometimes  the  '  heart  of  flesh'  is  put  for  an  earthly  mind,  sometimes 
for  a  tender  heart.  In  opposition  to  '  a  heart  of  stone,'  the  '  heart  of 
flesh'  is  taken  in  a  good  sense  ;  but,  in  opposition  to  pure  and  sublime 
affections,  in  a  bad  sense.  So,  in  opposition  to  the  shadows  of  the  law, 
seeing  in  a  glass  importeth  a  clear  discerning ;  but  in  opposition  to 
*  face  to  face/  but  a  low  and  weak  conception  of  the  essence  of  God. 
Oh  !  study  the  glory  of  God  in  the  word.  Though  you  cannot  exhaust 
and  draw  out  all  the  divine  perfections  in  your  thoughts,  yet  '  your 
ear  may  receive  a  little  thereof,'  Job  iv.  11.  When  we  want  the  sun, 
we  do  not  despise  a  candle.  (2.)  The  word  is  a  glass  to  show  us  our- 

160  AN  EXPOSITION.  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  23,  24. 

selves  ;  it  discovereth  the  hidden  things 'of  the  heart,  all  the  deformi 
ties  of  the  soul :  Mark  iv.  22,  '  There  is  nothing  hidden  that  shall  not 
be  made  manifest.'  The  word  discovereth  all  things.  Our  sins  are 
the  spots  which  the  law  discovereth  ;  Christ's  blood  is  the  water  to 
wash  them  off,  and  that  is  discovered  in  the  gospel.*  The  law  dis 
covereth  sins :  Kom.  vii.  9,  '  I  was  alive  without  the  law,  but  when 
the  commandment  came,  sin  revived,  and  I  died.'  We  think  ourselves 
well  and  in  a  good  case,  till  the  law  falleth  upon  the  spirit  with  full 
conviction,  and  then  we  see  all  the  spots  and  freckles  of  our  souls. 
The  gospel  discovereth  how  we  may  do  away  our  sins,  and  deck  and 
attire  our  souls  with  the  righteousness  of  Jesus  Christ. 

Use.  It  ministereth  a  meditation  to  you.  When  you  are  at  your 
glass,  consider  the  word  of  God  is  a  glass  :  I  must  look  after  the  estate 
and  complexion  of  my  soul.  Take  but  a  part  of  the  law  and  exercise 
yourself  with  it  every  day,  and  you  will  soon  see  the  deformity  of  your 
own  spirit :  do  not  look  in  a  flattering  glass.  We  love  a  picture  that 
is  like  us,  rather  than  that  which  is  flourished  and  varnished  with 
more  art. 

0~bs.  2.  That  the  knowledge  of  formal  professors  is  but  slight  and 
glancing  :  like  a  man  beholding  his  face  in  a  glass,  or  like  the  glaring 
of  a  sunbeam  upon  a  wave,  it  rusheth  into  the  thoughts,  and  it  is 
gone.  The  beast  under  the  law  that  did  not  chew  the  cud  was  unclean. 
There  is  much  in  meditation  and  a  constant  light.  Some  men,  if 
they  should  be  considerate,  would  undo  all  their  false  hopes  ;  therefore, 
usually,  carnal  men's  thoughts  are  but  slight  and  trivial ;  they  know 
things,  but  are  loath  to  let  their  thoughts  pause  upon  them  :  Luke  ii.5 
it  is  said,  4  Mary  pondered  all  these  sayings.'  A  slippery,  vain,  incon 
sistent  mind  will  be  hardly  held  to  truths.  When  we  apprehend  a 
thing,  curiosity  being  satisfied,  we  begin  to  loathe  it ;  and,  therefore,  it  is 
an  hard  matter  to  agitate  the  thoughts  again  to  that  point  to  which  they 
have  once  arrived  ;  the  first  apprehension  doth,  as  it  were,  deflower  it. 
Obs.  3.  Vain  men  go  from  the  ordinances  just  as  they  came  to 
them :  he  beholdeth,  and  goeth  away.  Like  the  beasts  in  Noah's  ark, 
they  went  in  unclean,  and  came  out  unclean.  So  many  come  un- 
humbled  and  unmortified,  and  so  they  go  away.  Oh  !  let  it  never  be 
said  of  you. 

Ols.  4.  Slight  apprehensions  make  a  very  weak  impression  :  things 
work  when  the  thoughts  are  serious  and  ponderous  :  musing  maketh 
the  fire  burn,  Ps.  xxxix.  3.  When  God's  arrows  stick  fast,  they 
make  us  roar  to  the  purpose,  Job  vi.  4.  And  David,  when  he  would 
express  his  deep  affection,  he  saith,  Ps.  li.  3,  '  My  sin  is  ever  before 
me: 'jit  would  not  out  of  his  thoughts.  Well,  then,  a  weak  impres 
sion  is  an  argument  of  a  slight  apprehension  :  thoughts  always  follow 
affection.  They  that  '  heal  their  wounds  slightly,'  Jer.  vi.  14,  show 
that  they  were  never  soundly  touched  and  pricked  at  heart.  Men 
thoroughly  affected  say— I  shall  remember  such  a  sermon  all  my  life 
time.  David  saith,  Ps.  cxix.  93,  *  I  will  never  forget  thy  precepts  ; 
for  by  them  thou  hast  quickened  me.'  Others  let  good  things  slip, 
because  they  never  felt  the  power  of  them. 

1  'Maculae  sunt  peccata  qua  ostendit  lex ;  aqua  est  sanguie  Christ!  quem  ostendit 

JAS.  I.  25.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  161 

Ver.  25.  But  whoso  looketh  into  the  perfect  law  of  liberty,  and 
continueth  therein,  he  being  not  a  forgetful  hearer,  but  a  doer  of  the 
work,  this  man  shall  be  blessed  in  his  deed. 

In  this  verse  you  have  the  third  reason  why  they  should  hear  the 
word  so  as  to  practise  it.  The  first  was,  they  would  but  deceive 
themselves,  and  go  away  with  a  vain  mistake.  The  next,  that  bare 
hearing  would  be  of  little  benefit ;  no  more  than  for  a  man  to  glance 
his  eye  upon  a  glass,  and  to  have  a  slight  view  of  his  countenance. 
And  now,  because  due  and  right  hearing  will  end  in  blessedness.  This 
verse  is  full  of  matter.  I  shall  drop  it  out  as  the  order  of  the  words 
yieldeth  it. 

But  whoso  looketh,  6  Be  irapaKvtyas :  a  metaphor  taken  from  those 
that  do  not  only  glance  upon  a  thing,  but  bend  their  body  towards  it, 
that  they  may  pierce  it  with  their  eyes,  and  narrowly  pry  into  it. 
The  same  word  is  used  for  the  stooping  down  of  the  disciples  to  look 
into  Christ's  sepulchre,  Luke  xxiv.  12,  and  John  xx.  4,  5,  and  that 
narrow  search  which  the  angels  use  to  find  out  the  mysteries  of  sal 
vation  :  1  Peter  i.  12,  '  Which  things  the  angels  desire  to  look  into ; ' 
where  there  is  a  plain  allusion  to  the  cherubim  whose  faces  were 
bowed  down  towards  the  ark,  as  desirous  to  see  the  mysteries  therein 
contained.  The  word  implieth  three  things  : — (1.)  Deepness  of 
meditation.  He  doth  not  glance  upon,  but  '  look  into  the  perfect  law 
of  liberty.'  (2.)  Diligence  of  inquiry  ;  they  do  not  content  themselves 
with  what  is  offered  to  their  first  thoughts,  but  accurately  pry  into  the 
mind  of  God  revealed  in  the  word.  (3.)  Liveliness  of  impression  :  they 
do  so  look  upon  it  as  to  find  the  virtue  of  it  in  their  hearts  :  2  Cor.  iii. 
18,  c  We,  with  open  face  beholding  the  glory  of  the  Lord  as  in  a 
glass,  are  changed  into  the  same  image  from  glory  to  glory.'  Such  a 
gaze  as  bringeth  the  glory  of  the  Lord  into  our  hearts,  as  Moses'  face 
shone  by  talking  with  God ;  and  we,  by  conversing  with  the  word, 
carry  away  the  beauty  and  glory  of  it  in  our  spirits. 

Into  the  perfect  law. — Some  understand  the  moral  law,  in  opposition 
to  the  ceremonial,  as  not  being  clear  and  full,  and  not  able  to  justify, 
though  men  rested  in  the  observances  of  it ;  and  not  perfect,  because 
not  durable,  and  was  not  to  remain  for  ever.  Thus  Heb.  vii.  19, 
1  The  law  made  nothing  perfect,  but  only  the  bringing  in  of  a  better 
hope.'  A  man  could  not  be  sanctified,  justified,  saved,  without  Christ, 
by  the  dispensation  of  Moses.  So  Heb.  ix.  9,  '  That  service  could  not 
make  the  comer  thereunto  perfect,  as  appertaining  to  the  conscience/ 
The  soul  could  find  no  ease  and  rest  in  it  without  looking  to  Christ. 
But  though  this  sense  be  probable,  yet  I  rather  understand  the  whole 
doctrine  and  word  of  God,  and  chiefly  the  gospel.  The  will  of  God  in 
scripture  is  called  a  law.  So  a  godly  man  is  said  to  '  meditate  uii  the 
law  day  and  night,'  Ps.  i. ;  and  '  thy  law  do  I  love,'  Ps.  cxix.,  where  by 
law  is  understood  the  whole  word ;  and  the  gospel  is  called  VO/JLO? 
TriVreo)?,  '  the  law  of  faith,'  Kom.  iii.  27.  Now  this  law  is  said  to  be 
perfect,  because  it  is  so  formally  in  itself,  and  they  that  look  into  it  will 
see  that  there  needeth  no  other  word  to  make  the  man  of  God  perfect. 

Of  liberty. — It  is  so  called,  partly  because  of  the  clearness  of 
revelation  :  it  is  the  counsel  of  God  to  his  friends  ;  or,  saith  Piscator, 
because  it  spareth  none,  but  dealeth  with  all  freely,  without  respect  of 

VOL.  IV.  L 

162  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  25. 

persons,  though  they  be  higher,  richer,  stronger  than  others ;  but 
rather  because  it  calleth  us  into  a  state  of  freedom.  See  other  reasons 
in  the  notes. 

And  continuetli  therein;  that  is,  persevereth  in  the  study  of  this 
holy  doctrine,  and  remaineth  in  the  knowledge,  belief,  and  obedience 
of  it. 

He  being  not  a  forgetful  hearer,  a/cpoarrjs  7%  eTriXrjo-fjiovTJs,  ( a 
hearer  of  oblivion,'  a  Hebraism  ;  and  he  useth  this  term  to  answer 
the  former  similitude  of  a  man's  forgetting  his  natural  face. 

But  a  doer  of  the  work ;  that  is,  laboureth  to  refer  and  bring  all 
things  to  practice.  He  is  said  to  be  a  doer  that  studieth  to  do,  though 
his  hand  doth  not  reach  to  the  perfectness  of  the  work ;  that  is,  mind 
ful  of  the  business  cut  out  to  him  in  the  word. 

He  shall  be  blessed  in  his  deed;  that  is,  so  behaving  himself,  or 
so  doing ;  or,  as  some  more  generally,  he  shall  be  blessed  in  all  his 
ways,  whatsoever  he  doth  shall  be  prosperous  and  happy.  For  they 
conceive  it  to  be  an  allusion  to  the  words  of  the  1st  Psalm,  ver.  3, 
'  Whatsoever  he  shall  do  shall  prosper  : '  for  the  psalmist  speaketh 
there  of  doing  the  law,  and  meditating  in  the  law,  as  James  speaketh 
here  of  looking  into  the  law  of  liberty,  and  walking  in  it.  But  here  the 
Papists  come  upon  us,  and  say — Lo  !  here  is  a  clear  place  that  we  are 
blessed  for  our  deeds.  But  I  answer — It  is  good  to  mark  the  distinct 
ness  of  scripture  phrase :  the  apostle  doth  not  say  for,  but  in  his 
deed.  It  is  an  argument  or  evidence  of  our  blessedness,  though  not 
the  ground  of  it ;  the  way,  though  not  the  cause. 

The  points  are  these  :— 

Obs.  1.  From  that  he  looJceth.  That  we  should  with  all  serious 
ness  and  earnestness  apply  ourselves  to  the  knowledge  of  the  gospel. 
There  should  be  deep  meditation  and  diligent  inquiry.  Your  first 
duty,  Christians,  is  to  admit  the  word  into  your  serious  thoughts :  Ps. 
i.  2,  '  He  meclitateth  in  the  law  day  and  night.'  We  should  always 
be  chewing  and  sucking  out  the  sweetness  of  this  cud  :  Ps.  xlv.  1, 
'  My  heart  inditeth  a  good  matter.'  The  word  in  the  original  signi- 
fieth  baketh  or  frieth  ;  it  is  an  allusion  to  the  mincah,  or  meat-offering, 
that  was  baked  and  fried  in  a  pan.  Truths  are  concocted  and  ripened 
by  meditation.  And  then  there  must  be  diligent  inquiry,  that  we  may 
not  content  ourselves  with  the  surface  of  truth,  but  get  into  the  bowels 
of  it :  1  Peter  i.  10,  '  Of  which  salvation  the  prophets  have  inquired 
diligently.'  Though  they  had  a  more  immediate  assistance  of  the 
Spirit,  yet  they  would  more  accurately  look  into  the  depths  and  mys 
teries  of  the  gospel,  and  consider  their  own  prophecies  :  Prov.  ii.  4, 
'  Search  for  wisdom  as  for  hidden  treasures.'  Jewels  do  not  lie  upon 
the  surface ;  you  must  get  into  the  caverns  and  dark  receptacles  of  the 
earth  for  them.  No  more  do  truths  lie  in  the  surface  or  outside  of  an 
expression.  The  beauty  and  glory  of  the  scriptures  is  within,  and 
must  be  fetched  out  with  much  study  and  prayer.  A  glance  cannot 
discover  the  worth  of  anything  to  us.  He  that  doth  but  cast  his  eye 
upon  a  piece  of  embroidery,  doth  not  discern  the  curiousness  and  the 
art  of  it.  So  to  know  Christ  in  the  bulk  doth  not  work  half  so  kindly 
with  us  as  when  we  search  out  the  breadth,  and  the  depth,  and  the 
length,  the  exact  dimensions  of  his  love  to  us. 

JAS.  I.  25.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  163 

Obs.  2.  The  gospel  is  a  law.  It  is  often  invested  with  this  title  and 
appellation :  Kom.  viii.  2,  '  The  law  of  the  Spirit  of  the  life  of  Jesus 
Christ  hath  made  us  free  from  the  law  of  sin  and  death/  The  covenant 
of  works  is  there  called  '  the  law  of  sin  and  death/  because  the  use  of 
it  to  man  fallen  is  to  convince  of  sin,  and  to  oblige  and  bind  over  to 
death.  But  the  gospel,  or  covenant  of  grace,  is  called  the  law  of  the 
Spirit  of  the  life  of  Christ,  because  the  intent  of  it  is,  by  faith,  to  plant 
us  into  Christ,  whose  life  we  are  enabled  to  live  by  the  Spirit ;  and  it 
is  called  '  the  law  of  this  life/  because  everything  that  concurreth  in 
the  right  constitution  and  making  of  a  law  is  found  in  the  gospel : — 
As  (1.)  Equity,  without  which  a  law  is  but  tyranny.  All  the  precepts 
of  the  gospel  are  just  and  equal,  most  proportionate  to  the  dignity  of 
man's  nature  :  it  is  holy,  good,  and  comfortable.  (2.)  There  is 
promulgation,  which  is  the  life  and  form  of  the  law,  and  without  which 
it  were  but  a  private  snare  to  catch  men  and  entrap  them.  Now  it  is 
'  proclaimed  to  the  captives/  Isa.  Ixi.  1 ;  it  must  be  '  preached  to  every 
creature/  Mark  xvi.  (3.)  The  author,  without  which  it  were  sedi 
tion — God,  who  can  prescribe  to  the  creature.  (4.)  The  end,  public 
good,  without  which  a  law  were  tyrannous  exaction  ;  and  the  end  is 
the  salvation  of  our  souls.  Well,  then,  look  upon  the  gospel  as  a  law 
and  rule,  according  to  which —(1st.)  Your  lives  must  be  conformed  : 
'  Peace  on  them  that  walk  according  to  this  rule/  Gal.  vi.  16  ;  that  is, 
the  directions  of  the  gospel.  (2d.)  All  controversies  and  doctrines 
must  be  decided  :  '  To  the  law  and  the  testimony ;  if  they  speak  not 
according  to  this  rule,  it  is  because  there  is  no  light  in  them/  Isa.  viii. 
20.  (3d.)  Your  estates  must  be  judged  :  '  God  will  judge  the  secrets 
of  all  men,  according  to  my  gospel/  Kom.  ii.  16.  The  whole  word 
carrieth  the  face  of  a  law,  according  to  which  you  shall  be  judged  ; 
nay,  the  gospel  itself  is  a  law,  partly  as  it  is  a  rule,  partly  because  of 
the  commanding  prevailing  power  it  hath  over  the  heart.  So  it  is 
'  the  law  of  the  Spirit  of  life  ; '  so  that  they  that  are  in  Christ  are 
not  without  a  law,  not  avopoi,  but  evvofjioi.  So  the  apostle,  1  Cor. 
ix.  21,  '  I  am  not  without  the  law,  but  under  the  law  to  Christ ; ' 
that  is,  under  the  rule  and  direction  of  the  moral  law,  as  adopted 
and  taken  in  as  a  part  of  the  gospel  by  Christ. 

Obs.  3.  The  word  of  God  is  a  perfect  law.  So  it  is  in  divers  respects. 
(1.)  Because  it  maketh  perfect.  The  nearer  we  come  to  the  word,  the 
greater  is  the  perfection  and  accomplishment  of  our  spirits.  The 
goodness  and  excellency  of  the  creature  lieth  in  the  nearest  conformity 
to  God's  will.  (2.)  It  directeth  us  to  the  greatest  perfection,  to  God 
blessed  for  ever,  to  the  righteousness  of  Christ,  to  perfect  communion 
with  God  in  glory.  (3.)  It  concerneth  the  whole  man,  and  hath  a  force 
upon  the  conscience :  men  go  no  further  than  outward  obedience ;  but 
c  the  law  of  the  Lord  is  perfect,  converting  the  soul/  Ps.  xix.  7.  'It  is 
not  a  lame,  defective  rule ;  besides  outward  observances,  there  is  some 
what  for  the  soul.  (4.)  It  is  a  perfect  law,  because  of  the  invariable 
tenor  of  it ;  it  needeth  not  to  be  changed,  but  is  always  like  itself : 
as  we  say,  that  is  a  perfect  rule  that  needeth  no  amendment.  (5.)  It 
is  pure,  and  free  from  error.  There  are  no  laws  of  men  but  there  are 
some  blemish  in  them.  Of  old,  wickedness  was  enacted  by  a  law1 — 

1  Osorius  de  Glor.,  lib.  i. 

164  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  25. 

adultery  :  by  a  law  of  the  Syrians,  the  virgins  were  to  prostitute  them 
selves  before  marriage.  So  in  the  laws  of  every  country  there  are 
some  marks  of  human  error  and  frailty ;  but,  Ps.  cxix.  140,  '  Thy 
word  is  pure,  therefore  thy  servant  loveth  it.'  (6.)  Because  it  is  a  suf 
ficient  rule.  Christ  hath  been  '  faithful  in  all  his  house/  in  all  the 
appointments  of  it.  Whatever  is  necessary  for  knowledge,  for  regu 
lating  of  life  and  worship,  for  confirmation  of  true  doctrines,  for 
confutation  of  false,  it  is  all  in  the  word :  2  Tim.  iii.  17,  '  That  the 
man  of  God  may  be  perfectly  furnished  unto  every  good  work.'  Well, 
then — (1 .)  Prize  the  word.  We  love  what  is  perfect.  (2.)  Suffer  nothing 
to  be  added  to  it :  Deut.  iv.,  *  Ye  shall  not  add  to  the  word  which  I 
command  you.'  So  the  whole  Bible  is  concluded :  Kev.  xxii.  18,  '  If 
any  one  add  to  these  things,  God  shall  add  to  him  the  plagues  that 
are  written  in  this  book/  It  will  be  a  sad  adding  that  incurreth  these 
plagues.  The  plagues  written  in  that  book  were  those  dreadful  judg 
ments  that  should  be  executed  upon  Antichrist  and  his  adherents ; 
they  are  most  for  adding,  coining  new  doctrines  of  faith,  piecing  up 
the  word  with  their  own  inventions.  And,  indeed,  as  they  add,  by 
obtruding  upon  the  world  the  traditions  and  usages  of  men,  so  others 
add  by  imposing  upon  men's  reverence  their  own  inventions  and  ima 
ginations.  They  cry  up  their  fancies  without  the  word,  and  private 
illuminations.  God  would  not  leave  the  world  at  so  great  an  uncer 
tainty.  Others  urge  the  commands  of  men.  Certainly  God  never 
intended  that  the  souls  of  his  people  should  be  left  as  a  prey  to  the 
present  power. 

01)s.  4.  That  the  gospel,  or  word  of  God,  is  a  '  law  of  liberty/  As 
it  is  a  perfect,  so  it  is  a  free  law.  So  it  is  in  divers  respects.  (1.)  Be 
cause  it  teacheth  the  way  to  true  liberty,  and  freedom  from  sin,  wrath, 
death.  Naturally  we  are  under  the  law  of  sin  and  death,  entangled 
with  the  yoke  of  our  own  corruptions,  and  bound  over  to  eternal 
misery ;  but  the  gospel  is  a  doctrine  of  liberty  and  deliverance  : 
John  viii.  36,  '  If  the  Son  shall  make  you  free,  you  shall  be  free 
indeed.'  There  is  no  state  so  free  as  that  which  we  enjoy  by  the 
gospel.  (2.)  The  bond  of  obedience  that  is  laid  upon  us  is  indeed  and 
in  truth  a  perfect  freedom.  For, — 

1.  The  matter  itself  of  our  obedience  is  freedom. 

2.  We  do  it  upon  free  principles. 

3.  We  have  the  help  of  a  free  Spirit. 

4.  We  do  it  in  a  state  of  freedom. 

1.  The  matter  is  freedom.  Duty  is  the  greatest  liberty,  and  sin  the 
greatest  bondage.  You  cannot  have  a  worse  restraint  than  to  be  left 
to  '  walk  in  the  ways  of  your  own  hearts.'  The  sinning  angels  are 
said  to  be  '  kept  in  chains  of  darkness/  Jude  6.  A  wicked  man  is  in 
bondage  here  and  hereafter ;  now  in  snares,  then  in  chains ;  here 
1  taken  captive  by  Satan  at  his  will'  and  pleasure,  2  Tim.  ii.  26,  and 
hereafter  bound  up  with  Satan  in  chains  of  darkness.  Sin  itself  is  a 
bondage,  and  hell  a  prison,  1  Peter  iii.  19.  Were  there  nothing  in 
sin  but  the  present  slavery,  it  is  enough  to  dissuade  us.  Who  would 
be  a  vassal  to  his  own  lusts?  at  the  command  of  pride,  and  every 
unclean  motion  ?  But,  alas !  the  present  thraldom  is  nothing  to  what 
is  future.  The  condition  of  a  sinner  for  the  present  is  servile,  but 

JAS.  I.  25.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  165 

hereafter  woful  and  dreadful.  Satan's  work  is  drudgery,  and  his 
reward  is  death,  How  can  we  remain  in  such  an  estate  with  any 
pleasure  ?  From  the  beginning  to  the  end  it  is  but  a  miserable  ser 
vility.  Why  should  we  account  Christ's  service  a  burthen,  when  it  is 
the  most  happy  liberty  and  freedom  ?  The  world  is  all  for  '  casting 
aside  the  cords,  for  breaking  these  bonds,'  Ps.  ii.  3.  Which  would 
you  have  ?  the  cords  of  duty  or  the  chains  of  darkness  ?  We  cannot 
endure  the  restraints  of  the  word,  or  the  severe,  grave  precepts  of 
Christianity ;  we  look  upon  them  as  an  infringement  of  our  carnal 
ease  and  liberty.  Oh  !  consider  these  are  not  gyves,  but  ornaments :  Ps. 
cxix.  45,  '  I  shall  walk  at  liberty,  for  I  seek  thy  precepts ;'  beddachah, 
1  at  large/  That  is  the  only  free  life  that  is  spent  in  loving,  enjoying, 
and  praising  God.  Oh !  do  not  count  it,  then,  to  be  the  only  free  and 
pleasant  life  to  know  nothing,  to  care  for  nothing,  in  matters  of  reli- 

fion.  Who  would  dote  upon  his  shackles,  and  think  gyves  a  liberty  ? 
Peter  ii.  19,  '  While  they  promise  themselves  liberty,  they  themselves 
are  the  servants  of  corruption  ;  for  of  whom  a  man  is  overcome,  of  the 
same  is  he  brought  into  bondage/  The  apostle  alludeth  to  the  law  of 
nations,  by  which  it  is  lawful  to  make  slaves  of  those  that  are  over 
come  and  taken  in  war.  Now  those  that  preach  carnal  doctrine,  and 
tell  men  they  may  live  as  they  list,  they  help  on  the  victory  of  sin, 
and  so  bring  men  into  a  vassalage  and  servitude  to  their  own  lusts. 
So  Kom.  vi.  20,  '  When  ye  were  servants  of  sin,  ye  were  free  from 
righteousness/  You  would  expatiate,  and  run  out  at  large,  and  you 
thought  this  was  a  freedom  ;  but  all  the  while  you  were  servants,  and 
servants  to  the  basest  master,  your  own  sin.  It  was  Ham's  curse  to 
be  a  servant  of  servants.  It  is  a  goodly  preferment,  is  it  not,  to  be 
Satan's  vassal,  lust's  slave?  I  remember  Austin  saith  of  Home, 
that  she  was  the  great  mistress  of  the  world,  and  the  drudge  of  sin.1 
And  Chrysostom  saith,  that  Joseph  was  the  freeman,  and  his  mistress 
was  the  servant,  when  she  obeyed  her  lusts.2 

2.  We  do  it  upon  free  principles.     Whatever  we  do,  we  do  it  as 

*  the  Lord's  freemen/  1  Cor.  vii.   22,  upon  principles  of  love  and 
thankfulness.     God  might  rule  us  'with  a  rod  of  iron,'  but  he  urgeth 
the  soul  with  '  constraints  of  love/     In  one  place,  '  I  beseech  you  by 
the  mercies  of  God/  &c.,  Kom.  xii.  1 ;  in  another,  '  Grace  teacheth 
us/  &c.,  Titus  ii.  12.     The  motives  of  the  gospel  are  mercy  and  grace  ; 
and  the  obedience  of  the  gospel  is  an  obedience  performed  out  of 
gratitude  or  thankfulness. 

3.  We  have  the  assistance  of  a  free  Spirit,  that  disentangleth  our 
souls,  and  helpeth  us  in  the  work  of  obedience.     David  prayeth, 

*  Uphold  me  by  thy  free  Spirit/  Ps.  Ii.  12.    A  free  Spirit,  because  he 
maketh  us  free,  helpeth  us  to  serve  God  willingly  and  freely.     There 
is  spirit  and  life  in  the  commandment,  somewhat  besides  a  dead  letter, 
and  that  maketh  it  a  '  perfect  law  of  liberty/    Of  old,  there  was  light 
in  the  commandment  to  guide  their  feet,  but  not  fire  to  burn  up  their 
lusts ;  there  was  no  help  to  fulfil  it :  the  light  was  directive,  but  not 

4.  We  do  it  in  a  free  state,  in  an  estate  of  sonship,  and  well  pleas- 

1  '  Domitrix  gentium,  et  captiva  vitiorum.' — A  ug.  de  Civit.  Dei. 

2  Chrysos.  Horn.  19,  in  priorem  Ep.  ad  Corinth. 

166  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  25. 

ing :  Eom.  viii.  15,  '  Ye  have  not  received  the  spirit  of  bondage  again 
unto  fear ;  but  a  spirit  of  adoption,  whereby  we  cry,  Abba,  Father.' 
When  a  man  is  under  a  covenant  of  works,  the  testimony  of  his  con 
science  is  suitable  to  his  estate ;  and  therefore  in  his  natural  condition 
his  spirit  is  servile,  and  all  that  he  doth  he  doth  as  a  servant :  but 
when  he  is  regenerated,  and  claimeth  by  another  tenure,  that  of  grace, 
the  dispositions  of  his  spirit  are  more  filial  and  child-like ;  he  acteth 
as  a  son,  with  an  ingenuous  liberty  and  confidence.  Adam  himself 
in  innocency,  because  under  a  covenant  of  works,  was  but  as  an 
honourable  servant :  Gal.  iv.  31 ,  '  We  are  not  children  of  the  bond 
woman,  but  of  the  free.'  The  new  covenant  giveth  us  another  kind 
of  estate  and  spirit.  So  Luke  i.  74,  '  Being  delivered  out  of  the  hands 
of  our  enemies,  we  serve  him  without  fear ;'  that  is,  without  such  a 
scrupulous  awe  and  bondage,  as  otherwise  would  remain  upon  the 

Use.  Well,  then,  consider  whether  you  be  under  a  law  of  liberty,  yea 
or  no.  To  this  end — (1. )  Ask  your  souls,  which  is  a  bondage  to  you,  sin  or 
duty  ?  When  you  do  complain  of  the  yoke,  what  is  grievous  to  you,  the 
commandment  or  the  transgression  ?  Do  you  '  delight  in  the  law  of  the 
Lord  in  the  inward  man  ?  '  Only  corruption  that  hangeth  on  so  fast 
is  a  sad  burthen.  The  carnal  heart  hath  a  spite  at  the  law,  Eom.  viii.  7, 
not  its  own  lusts.  (2.)  When  you  do  duty,  what  is  the  weight  that 
poiseth  your  spirits  to  it  ?  Your  warrant  is  the  command  ;  but  your 
poise  and  weight  should  be  love.1  (3.)  What  is  your  strength  for  duty 
— reason  or  the  assistance  of  the  free  Spirit  ?  He  that  cometh  in  his  own 
name  usually  standeth  upon  his  own  bottom.  When  our  dependence  is 
on  Christ,  our  tendency  is  to  him.  (4.)  Would  you  have  the  work  ac 
cepted  for  its  own  sake,  or  your  persons  accepted  for  Christ's  sake  ?  It  is 
an  ill  sign  when  a  man's  thoughts  run  more  upon  the  property  and  qua 
lity  of  the  work  than  upon  the  propriety  and  interest  of  his  person.  In 
the  law  of  liberty  or  covenant  of  grace,  God's  acceptance  beginneth 
with  the  person ;  and  though  there  be  weak  services,  much  deadness, 
coldness,  dulness,  yet  it  is  accepted,  because  it  is  done  in  a  free  state. 
Works  can  never  be  so  vile  as  our  person  was  when  we  first  found 
favour  with  God.  If  it  be  thus  with  you,  you  have  cause  to  bless  God 
for  your  freedom,  to  consider  what  you  shall  render  again.  Kequite 
God  you  cannot  till  you  pay  back  as  much  as  he  gave  you.2  '  He  hath 
given  his  Son  to  free  you,  and  you  should  give  up  yourselves. 

06s.  5.  From  that  and  abidetli  therein.  This  commendeth  our 
knowledge  of  and  affection  to  the  word,  to  continue  in  it.  Hypocrites 
have  a  taste  ;  some  men's  hearts  burn  under  the  ordinances,  but  all  is 
lost  and  drowned  in  the  world  again  :  John  viii.  31,  '  If  ye  continue 
in  the  word,  then  are  ye  my  disciples  indeed.'  There  may  be  good 
flashes  for  the  present,  but  Christ  saith,  *  If  ye  continue/  if  ye  ripen 
them  to  good  affections.  So  2  John  9,  *  Whosoever  transgresseth,  and 
abideth  not  in  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  hath  not  God ;  but  he  that 
abideth  in  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  he  hath  both  the  Father  and  the 
Son.'  He  that  hath  not  God  hath  lost  himself;  and  he  that  hath 
God  hath  all  things  :  now  so  great  a  privilege  is  promised  to  perseve- 

L  'Amor  meus  est  pondus  meum,  eo  feror  quocunque  feror.' — Aug. 
3  '  Deo  redempti  sumus,  Deum  debemus.'— Salvian. 

JAS.  I.  25.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  167 

ranee.  The  corrupt  angels  lost  their  glory  when  they  left  their  love 
to  the  truth.  Their  sin  is  thus  expressed  —  they  '  abode  not  in  the 
truth/  John  viii.  44.  Now  to  this  abiding  in  the  word  two  things  are 
opposite  :  —  (1.)  Apostasy,  when  we  go  off  from  our  former  profession 
and  zeal  for  God  ;  a  sad  case  !  2  Peter  ii.  21,  '  Better  they  had  never 
known  the  holy  commandment  than  to  go  back  from  the  knowledge  of 
it  after  it  was  once  delivered  to  them.'  The  less  law  the  less  trans 
gression  ;  apostates  sin  against  more  conviction  :  Ps.  cxix.  118, 
'Thou  hast  trodden  down  them  that  err  from  thy  statutes:  God 
treadeth  them  under  feet  as  unsavoury  salt,1  because  they  have 
lost  their  smartness  and  savour.  (2.)  There  is  erepoSiSacncaXla, 
other  gospelling:  Gal.  i.  6,  'Soon  turned  to  another  gospel.'  So 
1  Tim.  i.  3,  '  Charge  them  that  they  teach  no  other  doctrine.' 
Men  would  have  something  new  and  strange,  which  is  usually  the 
ground  of  heresy.  So  1  Tim.  vi.  3,  'If  any  teach  otherwise,  and 
consent  not  to  wholesome  words,  even  the  words  of  our  Lord  Jesus 
Christ,  he  is  proud,  knowing  nothing/  This  desire  to  differ,  and 
hear  another  gospel,  is  very  dangerous  ;  new  ways  affected  are  the 
high  way  to  an  old  error. 

Well,  then,  if  we  must  abide  in  the  word,  then  —  (1.)  Be  sure  to 
cherish  good  motions  if  they  come  upon  your  hearts  :  you  are  to  abide 
therein  :  though  the  Spirit  break  in  upon  the  soul  of  a  sudden,  let  it 
not  go  so.  Usually  our  religious  pangs  are  but  like  a  sudden  flash  of 
lightning  into  a  dark  place.  (2.)  Be  careful  to  observe  the  first 
decays  and  languishments  of  your  spirits,  that  you  may  'strengthen 
the  things  that  are  ready  to  die/  Kev.  iii.  2.  If  the  candle  of  the  Lord 
doth  not  shine  as  it  was  wont  to  do,  complain  of  the  first  dimness 
and  decay. 

Obs.  6.  From  that  being  not  a  forgetful  hearer.  That  hearers  must 
take  heed  that  they  do  not  forget  the  good  things  dispensed  to  them. 
Helps  to  memory  are  these  :  —  (1.)  Attention  ;  men  remember  what  they 
heed  and  regard  :  Prov.  iv.  21,  '  Attend  to  my  sayings  ;  keep  them  in 
the  midst  of  thine  heart  ;  '  that  is,  in  such  a  place  where  nothing  can 
come  to  take  them  away.  Where  there  is  attention,  there  will  be 
retention  :  the  memory  is  the  chest  and  ark  of  divine  truths,  and  a 
man  should  see  them  carefully  locked  up  :  Isa.  xlii.  23,  '  Who  will 
hearken  and  hear  for  the  time  to  come  ?'  Hearkening  noteth  rever 
ence  and  seriousness  ;  as  it  is  said,  Isa.  xxxii.  3,  '  The  ears  of  them 
that  hear  shall  hearken/  Now  reverence  in  the  admission  of  the  word 
helpeth  us  in  the  keeping  of  it  :  truths  are  lost  by  slight  hearing. 
(2.)  Affection,  that  is  a  great  friend  to  memory  ;  men  remember  what 
they  care  for  :  an  old  man  will  not  forget  where  he  laid  his  bag  of 
gold  :  delight  and  love  are  always  renewing  and  reviving  the  object 
upon  our  thoughts,  Ps.  cxix.  David  often  asserteth  his  delight  in  the 
law,  and  therefore  it  was  always  in  his  thoughts  :  ver.  97,  '  Oh  how 
love  I  thy  law  !  it  is  my  meditation  all  the  day/  (3.)  Application 
and  appropriation  of  truths;  we  will  remember  that  which  con- 
cerneth  ourselves  :  in  a  public  edict,  a  man  will  be  sure  to  carry  away 
that  which  is  proper  to  his  case  and  tenure  :  Job  v.  27,  '  Hear  this, 

14  Sic  Ecebolius  de  ipso  ;    HaT^crare  /i£  r6  aXas  r6  dvalffdyTOv.'  —  Socrat.  Ecd.    Hi&t. 
lib.  iii.  cap.  2. 

168  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  25, 

and  know  it  for  thy  good ;'  there  he  spake  to  me ;  this  I  must  re 
member  for  ray  comfort.  So  Prov.  ix.  12,  '  Be  wise  for  thyself;' 
this  is  for  your  souls,  and  concerneth  you  nearly.  (4.)  Meditation, 
and  holy  care  to  cover  the  word,  that  it  be  not  snatched  from  us  by 
vain  thoughts ;  that  the  fowls  of  the  air  do  not  peck  up  the  good 
seed,  Mat.  xiii.  4.  You  should  often  revolve  and  revive  it  upon  the 
thoughts  :  as  an  apple,  when  it  is  tossed  in  the  hand,  leaveth  the  odour 
and  smell  of  it  behind  when  it  is  gone  :  Luke  ii.  19,  *  Mary  kept  these 
sayings,  and  pondered  them  in  her  heart ;'  she  kept  them,  because  she 
pondered  them.  (5.)  Observation  of  the  accomplishment  of  truths  : 
you  will  remember  things  spoken  long  since,  when  you  see  them  veri 
fied:  John  ii.  19, '  Then  they  remembered  that  it  was  written,  The  zeal 
of  thine  house  hath  eaten  me  up/  Such  occasions  observed  will  make 
old  truths  come  to  mind  afresh.  So  ver.  22,  *  Then  they  remembered 
he  had  spoken '  of  destroying  the  temple  in  three  days.  So  God 
saith,  Hosea  vii.  12,  *  I  will  chastise  them,  as  their  congregation  hath 
heard.'  When  the  prophets  are  dead  and  gone,  they  may  remember 
they  were  taught  such  things  along  time  since.  (6.)  Practise  what 
thou  nearest :  you  will  remember  the  good  you  get  by  it :  'I  will  re 
member  thy  precepts,  for  by  them  thou  hast  quickened  me/  Ps.  cxix.  93. 
Christians  can  discourse  of  the  circumstances  of  that  sermon  by  which 
they  have  received  profit.  (7.)  Commit  it  to  the  Spirit's  keeping  and 
charge  :  John  xiv.  26,  The  Comforter,  ava^vrjo-e^  shall  bring  things  to 
your  remembrance/  Christ  chargeth  the  Holy  Ghost  with  his  own 
sermons ;  the  disciples'  memories  were  too  slippery :  and  truly  this 
is  the  great  advantage  which  they  have  that  have  interest  in  the 
promise  of  the  Spirit,  that  truths  are  brought  freshly  to  mind  in  the 
very  season  wherein  they  do  concern  them. 

Obs.  7.  From  that  lie,  being  not  a  forgetful  hearer,  but  a  doer. 
Sin  cometh  for  want  of  remembering :  forgetful  hearers  are  negligent : 
Ps.  ciii.  18,  '  Them  that  remember  his  commandments  to  do  them/ 
A  godly  man  hath  an  affective  memory;  he  remembereth  to  do. 
Wicked  men  are  often  expressed  and  set  out  by  their  bad  memories ; 
as  Job  viii.  13,  '  They  forget  God ;'  so  Ps.  cxix.  139,  '  Mine  enemies 
have  forgotten  thy  word;'  that  is,  they  do  not  practise  it;  yea,  the 
sins  of  God's  people  are  usually  sins  of  forgetfulness  and  incogitancy ; 
as  Peter  would  never  have  been  so  bold  and  daring  upon  the  danger, 
and  done  what  he  did,  if  he  had  remembered.  The  text  saith,  '  When 
he  remembered,  he  wept  bitterly/  Luke  xxii.  61.  So  when  they 
fainted  under  affliction :  Heb.  xii.  5,  *  Ye  have  forgotten  the  consola 
tion  whch  speaketh  to  you  as  children.'  A  bad  memory  is  the  cause 
of  a  great  deal  of  mischief  in  the  soul.  So  for  distrust :  Mark  viii.  18, 
'  Ye  see  and  hear,  but  do  not  remember ; '  they  did  not  actually  consider 
the  former  experience  of  the  loaves  and  fishes,  and  so  distrusted.  So- 
for  murmuring  and  impatience :  David  murmured  till  he  *  remem 
bered  the  years  of  the  right  hand  of  the  Most  High/  Ps.  Ixxvii.  10 
We  find  that  seasonable  truths  give  a  great  deal  of  relief  and  ease  to 
the  mind  in  a  temptation:  Lam.  iii.  21,  '  This  I  recall  to  mind,  and 
therefore  I  have  hope;'  whereas  others  are  troubled  with  every  event 
of  providence,  because  they  do  not  remember  the  comforts  the  scrip 
ture  hath  provided  in  such  a  case.  They  that  came  to  the  sepulchre 

JAS.  I.  26.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  169 

were  troubled  about  the  death  and  resurrection  of  Christ,  because  they 
had  forgotten  what  he  had  spoken  to  them  in  Galilee,  Luke  xxiv.  6,  8. 
So  when  the  Thessalonians  were  troubled  at  the  growing  of  errors, 
and  extremely  shaken  in  their  confidence,  Paul  saith,  2  Thes.  ii.  5, 
'  Eemember  ye  not  how  I  spake  of  those  things  ? '  It  is  very  observ 
able  that  in  many  places  of  scripture  all  duty  is  expressed  by  this  word 
remember,  as  if  it  did  necessarily  imply  suitable  actions  and  affections ; 
so  Exod.  xx.  8,  '  Kemember  the  sabbath-day ; '  as  if,  then,  they  must 
needs  sanctify  it :  so  Eccles.  xii.  1,  '  Kemember  thy  Creator ;'  it  is  put 
for  all  that  reverence,  duty,  and  worship  which  we  owe  to  God.  In 
other  places  the  link  between  memory  and  duty  is  plainly  asserted : 
Num.  xv.  40,  '  That  ye  may  remember  to  do  all  my  commandments  : ' 
a  seasonable  recalling  of  truths  doth  much.  You  see,  out  of  all  this, 
that  we  should  not  only  get  knowledge,  but  remembrance ;  that  we 
should  not  only  faithfully  lay  up  truths,  but  seasonably  lay  them  out ; 
it  is  a  great  skill  to  do  so,  and  we  had  need  call  in  the  help  of  the 
Spirit.  There  are  some  truths  that  are  of  a  general  use  and  benefit ; 
others  that  serve  for  some  cases  and  seasons.  In  the  general,  hide  the 
whole  word  in  your  heart,  that  ye  may  have  a  fresh  truth  to  check  sin 
in  every  temptation,  Ps.  cxix.  11.  So  lay  up  the  mercies  of  God  that 
you  may  be  thankful ;  forget  not  all  his  benefits,  Ps.  ciii.  2 ;  your  sins, 
that  you  may  be  humble :  Deut.  ix.  7,  '  Eemember  and  forget  not 
how  thou  provokedst  the  Lord  thy  God  in  the  wilderness  ; '  so  remark 
able  experiences,  '  the  years  of  God's  right  hand,'  that  you  may  be 
confident.  Labour  thus  to  get  a  present  ready  memory,  that  will  urge 
truths  in  the  season  when  they  do  concern  us. 

Obs.  8.  From  that  but  a  doer  of  the  ivork.  The  word  layeth  out 
work  for  us.  It  was  not  ordained  only  for  speculation ;  it  is  a  rule  of 
duty  to  the  creatures.  There  is  the  '  work  of  faith/  John  vi.  29  ;  the 
'  labour  of  love/  Heb.  vi.  1 0  ;  and '  fruits  worthy  repentance/  Mat.  iii.  8. 
All  this  work  is  cut  out  to  us  in  the  gospel — faith,  love,  and  new 
obedience.  Do  not  content  yourselves,  then,  with  a  module  of  truth. 
The  apostle  calleth  it,  Rom.  ii.  20,  ^opfywcnv  eVto-T^yu,^,  '  a  form  of 
knowledge/  With  a  winter  sun,  that  shineth,  but  warmeth  not,  let 
not  the  tree  of  knowledge  deprive  you  of  the  tree  of  life  ;  work  the 
works  of  God.  Faith  is  your  work,  repentance  is  your  business,  and 
the  life  of  love  and  praise  your  duty. 

Obs.  9.  From  that  shall  be  blessed  in  his  deed.  There  is  a  blessed 
ness  annexed  to  the  doing  of  the  work  of  the  word;1  not  for  the 
work's  sake,  but  out  of  the  mercy  of  God.  See  then  that  you  hear  so  that 
you  come  within  the  compass  of  the  blessing  ;  the  blessing  is  usually 
pronounced  at  the  time  of  your  addresses  to  God  in  this  worship.  See 
that  your  own  interest  be  clear,  that  when  the  minister,  in  God's 
name,  saith,  *  Blessed  is  he  that  heareth  the  word  and  keepeth  it/  you 
may  echo  again  to  God,  and  bless  him  in  your  reins,  for  that  he  hath 
bowed  your  heart  to  the  obedience  of  it. 

Ver.  26.  But  if  any  man  among  you  seemefh  to  be  religious,  and 
bridleth  not  his  tongue,  but  deceiveth  his  own  soul,  this  man's  religion 
is  vain. 

The  apostle  having  showed  the  blessedness  of  those  which  are  doers 
1  Qu.  <  Lord '  ?— ED. 

170  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  26. 

of  the  word,  lest  any  should  seem  to  challenge  a  share  in  it  to  whom 
it  doth  not  belong,  he  discovereth  who  are  hearers  only,  and  not  doers 
of  the  word ;  men  that  do  allow  themselves  in  any  known  sin ;  and  he 
instanceth  in  the  evils  of  the  tongue. 

Quest.  Before  I  open  the  words  any  further,  I  shall  inquire  why 
James  doth  pitch  so  much  weight  upon  this  one  particular,  it 
seeming  so  inconsiderable  in  itself,  and  it  having  so  little  respect  to 
the  context. 

Ans.  The  reasons  assigned  in  the  answer  will  afford  us  so  many 

Reas.  1.  Because  this  is  a  chief  part  of  our  respect  to  our  neighbour, 
and  true  love  to  God  will  be  manifested  by  love  to  our  neighbour. 
They  do  not  usually  detract  from  others  whom  God  hath  pardoned. 
He  that  saith,  '  Thou  shalt  love  God,'  hath  also  said,  '  Thou  shalt  love 
thy  neighbour;'  though  the  object  be  diverse,  yet  the  ground  for 
obedience  is  the  same  ;  therefore  the  apostles  usually  bring  this  argu 
ment  to  unmask  and  discolour  hypocritical  persuasions  ;  as  1  John  ii.  9, 
'He  that  saith  he  is  in  the  light,  and  hateth  his  brother,  is  in 
darkness  even  till  now;'  so  1  John  iii.  17,  18,  '  If  he  shut  up  his 
bowels  from  his  brother,  how  dwelleth  the  love  of  God  in  him  ? '  How 
can  it  be  imagined  that  those  that  are  sensible  of  the  love  of  God 
should  be  merciless  towards  others  ?  So  1  John  iv.  20,  '  He  that  loveth 
not  his  brother  whom  he  hath  seen,  how  can  he  love  God  whom  he 
hath  not  seen  ? '  The  good  and  attractiveness  that  is  in  others  is  an 
object  of  the  senses,  and  usually  they  make  a  strong  impression. 
Well,  then,  do  not  flatter  yourselves  with  duties  of  worship,  in  the 
neglect  of  duties  of  commerce. 

Reas.  2.  Because  of  the  natural  proneness  that  is  in  us  to  offend  with 
the  tongue:  censuring  is  a  pleasing  sin,  extremely  compliant  with 
nature.  How  propense  the  nature  of  man  is  to  it  I  shall  show  you  in 
the  third  chapter.  Speech  is  the  discovery  of  reason ;  corruption  soon 
runneth  out  that  way.  Well,  then,  watch  over  it ;  the  more  natu 
ral  corruptions  are,  the  more  care  should  we  use  to  suppress  them : 
Ps.  xxxix.  1,  '  I  will  take  heed  to  my  ways,  that  I  offend  not  with  my 
tongue.'  There  needeth  special  caution  for  that ;  and  as  you  should 
watch,  so  you  should  pray,  and  desire  God  to  watch  over  your  watch 
ing  :^  Ps.  cxli.  3,  '  Set  a  watch  before  my  mouth,  keep  the  door  of  my 
lips/  The  awe  of  God  is  a  great  restraint. 

Reas.  3.  Because  it  was  the  sin  of  that  age,  as  appeareth  by  his 
frequent  dissuasives.  See  ver.  19  ;  so  chap.  Hi.  per  totum  ;  so  chap.  iv. 
ver.  11,  &c.  The  note  is — It  is  an  ill  sign  to  be  carried  away  with 
the  evil  of  the  times.  It  is  a  description  of  wicked  men,  Eph.  ii.  2, 
that  they  '  walked  according  to  the  course  of  this  world  ; '  in  the  original, 
tear  aw»w,  according  to  the  age,  as  the  manner  of  the  times  went. 
So  Kom.  xii.  2:  'Be  not  conformed  to  this  world;'  T&  OMBVI  TOVTW, 
1  to  this  age ;'  the  meaning  is,  do  not  get  into  the  garb  of  the  times. 
So  2  Chron.  xvii.  4,  '  He  walked  after  the  trade  of  Israel.'  Many  do  so ; 
they  walk  after  the  fashion  and  trade  of  the  country  and  times  wherein 
they  live.  Oh !  consider,  this  is  the  sure  note  of  a  vain  profession. 
Sins,  when  they  grow  common,  become  less  odious;  and  therefore 
slight  spirits  commit  them  without  remorse. 

JAS.  I.  26.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  171 

Reas.  4.  Because  it  seerneth  so  small  a  sin,  and  having  laid  aside 
grosser  sins,  they  did  the  more  securely  continue  in  the  practice  of  it. 
They  were  not  adulterers,  drunkards ;  and  therefore,  flattering  them 
selves  with  a  show  of  holiness,  they  did  the  more  freely  censure  and 
detract  from  others.  Note,  indulgence  in  the  least  sin  cannot  stand 
with  grace.  Your  '  religion  is  vain '  if  you  do  not  c  refrain  your 
tongue.'  They  are  miserably  mistaken  that  hope  to  redeem  their  souls 
from  the  guilt  of  one  sin  by  abstaining  from  the  practice  of  another. 
Some  are  precise  in  small  things,  that  they  may  be  excused  for  non- 
observance  of  '  the  weightier  things  of  the  law ; '  as  the  stomach, 
when  it  cannot  digest  solid  food,  naturally  desireth  to  fill  itself 
with  water,  or  such  light  stuff  as  breedeth  nought  but  wind.  The 
Pharisees  '  tithed  mint  and  cummin,'  &c.  Others  avoid  grosser  sins, 
and  hope  that  it  is  an  excuse  for  other  corruptions  that  are  not  so 
odious.  We  all  plead,  *  Is  it  not  a  little  one,  and  my  soul  shall  live?' 

Reas.  5.  Because  this  is  usually  the  hypocrite's  sin.  Hypocrites,  of 
all  others,  are  least  able  to  bridle  their  tongue  ;  and  they  that  seem  to 
be  religious,  are  most  free  in  censuring ;  partly  because,  being  ac 
quainted  with  the  guilt  of  their  own  spirits,  they  are  most  apt  to  sus 
pect  others.  Nazianzen  saith  of  his  father,  ovre  rl  rcov  irovrjpwv  avros 
TrapaSexT) — he  being  of  an  innocent  and  candid  soul,  was  less  apt  to 
think  evil  of  others  ;  and  he  giveth  this  reason,  fipabv  yap  et9  inrovoiav 
Kcucovlro  7T/70?  fca/ciav  ^vcrKiv^ov — goodness  is  least  suspicious,  and  plain 
hearts  think  all  like  themselves.  Partly  because  they  use  to  be  much 
abroad  that  are  so  little  at  home.  Censuring  is  a  trick  of  the  devil, 
to  take  off  the  care  from  their  own  hearts ;  and  therefore,  to  excuse 
indignation  against  their  own  sins,  their  zeal  is  passionate  in  declaim 
ing  against  the  sins  of  others.  Gracious  hearts  reflect  most  upon 
themselves  ;  they  do  not  seek  what  to  reprove  in  others,  but  what  to 
lament  in  themselves.  Partly  because  they  are  not  so  meek  and  gentle 
as  true  Christians.  When  a  man  is  sensible  of  his  own  failings,  he  is 
very  tender  in  reflecting  upon  the  weaknesses  of  others :  Gal.  vi.  1, 
'  Ye  which  are  spiritual,  restore  him  with  meekness/  They  which  are 
most  spiritual  are  most  tender  to  set  a  fallen  Christian  in  joint  again, 
Karapri^ere.  Partly  because  an  hypocrite  is  a  proud  person  :  he  would 
have  every  one  to  be  his  own  foil,  and  therefore  he  blemisheth  others. 
Diotrephes  would  be  prating  against  John,  because  he  '  loved  the  pre 
eminence/  3  John  9,  10.  Partly  because  hypocrites  are  best  at  their 
tongue,  and  therefore  cannot  bridle  it.  When  men  make  religion  a 
talk,  their  way  is  to  blemish  others ;  it  is  a  piece  of  their  religion. 
The  Lord  give  you  to  discern  into  your  own  souls,  whether  these  dis 
positions  be  in  you  or  no. 

Reas.  6.  Because  there  is  such  a  quick  intercourse  between  the 
tongue  and  the  heart,  that  the  tongue  is  the  best  discovery  of  it ;  and 
therefore,  saith  the  apostle,  is  '  their  religion  vain/  if  they  '  cannot 
bridle  their  tongues.'  Seneca  said,  that  the  speech  is  the  express 
image  of  the  heart ;  and  a  greater  than  he  said,  '  Out  of  the  abun 
dance  of  the  heart  the  mouth  speaketh.'  The  quality  of  many  men's 
religion  may  be  discerned  by  the  intemperateness  of  their  language ; 
words  are  but  the  excrements  and  overflow  of  their  wickedness.  A 
man  may  soon  discern  of  what  religion  they  are,  saith  Pareus  of  the 

172  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  26. 

Jesuits,  qui  theologiam  in  caninam  maledicentiam  transferunt — that, 
like  angry  curs,  cannot  pass  by  one  another  without  snarling. 

These  reasons  being  premised,  the  opening  of  the  verse  will  be  the 
more  easy. 

If  any  man  seemeth  to  be  religious. — To  himself  or  others,  by  the  prac 
tice  of  some  few  things  by  worship,  and  some  duties  of  the  first  table. 

And  bridleth  not  his  tongue  ;  that  is,  doth  not  abstain  from  the  evils 
of  the  tongue,  such  as  railing,  reviling,  censuring,  and  detraction,  which 
latter,  I  suppose,  is  chiefly  intended. 

But  deceiveth  his  own  soul. — It  may  be  understood  two  ways : — (1.) 
Though  he  detract  from  others,  yet  he  hath  too  good  an  opinion  of 
himself.  Self-love  is  the  ground  of  hypocrisy ;  they  do  not  search 
themselves,  suspect  themselves.  Judas  said  last,  'Master,  is  it  I?' 
They  are  too  equal  to  themselves,  though  too  severe  to  others.  (2.) 
The  other  sense  may  be,  he  cometh  at  length  to  flatter  himself,  to 
deceive  his  own  soul,  as  well  as  to  seem  to  others. 

This  mans  religion  is  vain ;  that  is,  either  he  maketh  his  graces 
and  the  good  things  that  are  in  him  to  be  vain  and  unprofitable,  or 
rather,  his  religion  is  pretended  to  no  purpose. 

Obs.  1.  Besides  what  I  have  observed  already  from  hence,  you  may 
collect  from  that  seemeth  to  be  religious,  there  may  be  religion  only 
in  pretence  and  seeming.  So  1  Cor.  viii.  2,  '  If  any  man  among  you 
thinketh  he  knoweth  anything ; '  that  is,  pleaseth,  flattereth  himself  in 
the  conceit  of  his  knowledge.  So  Gal.  vi.  3,  '  If  any  man  think  him 
self  to  be  something,  when  he  is  nothing ; '  that  proudly  overweeneth 
his  own  worth.  Well,  then,  rest  not  in  a  '  form  of  godliness/  2  Tim. 
iii.  5,  or  in  a  '  form  of  knowledge/  Horn.  ii.  20 ;  in  a  naked  specula 
tion,  or  in  a  varnished  profession.  These  things  may  carry  a  fair 
show  and  semblance  in  the  world,  but  are  of  no  account  before  God. 
Still  put  yourselves  to  this  question,  Am  I  yet  beyond  a  hypocrite  ? 
Be  what  you  would  seem  to  be.1 

Obs.  2.  From  that  bridleth  not  his  tongue.  That  it  is  a  great  part 
of  religion  to  bridle  the  tongue.  There  are  several  evils  that  must  be 
restrained — lying,  swearing,  cursing,  railing,  ribaldry.  I  shall  speak 
of  these  five: — (1.)  Lying.  Beware  of  that,  with  all  the  kinds,  equi 
vocation  and  dissimulation.  Truth  is  the  ground  of  commerce.  It 
is  a  sin  destructive  to  the  good  of  mankind.  The  devil,  that  is,  the 
accuser,  he  is  called  the  liar  too.  Oh  !  do  not  cry  up  a  report  of  others, 
till  you  have  sifted  it.  '  Report,  say  they,  and  we  will  report  it/  Jer. 
xx.  10 ;  that  is,  bring  us  anything,  and  we  will  blaze  it ;  and  so  a 
little  water  is  evaporated  into  a  great  deal  of  steam  and  smoke.  Crassa 
negligentia  dolus  est,  say  the  civilians — if  you  do  not  try  it,  you  are 
guilty.  (2.)  Cursing.  There  is  corruption  at  the  heart  when  the 
tongue  is  so  blistered.  It  is  observable  that  when  God  would  have 
the  curses  pronounced  upon  Mount  Ebal,  he  employed  the  servile 
tribes  about  it,  only  Reuben  was  amongst  them,  that  prostituted  his 
father's  bed.  There  is  seldom  any  blessing  for  them  that  use  them 
selves  to  curses.  (3.)  Swearing.  It  is  said  the  righteous  '  feareth 
an  oath/  Eccles.  ix.  2.  Not  only  those  false-mouthed  oaths,  but 
minced  oaths,  and  vain  speeches,  and  peremptory  asseverations  in  the 

1  'Quod  videri  vis,  illud  esse  debes.' 

JAS.  I.  27.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  173 

slightest  matters.  Men  that  lavish  away  deep  asseverations  upon  every 
trifle  are,  if  the  matter  be  anything  more  serious,  put  upon  that  which 
should  be  the  last  reserve,  an  oath.  (4.)  Bailing.  I  take  it  not  only 
for  the  gross  railing,  but  privy  defamations  and  whisperings  to  the 
prejudice  of  others,  meddling  with  other  men's  matters ;  as  the  apostles 
often  speak  against  these,  so  commending  with  a  but,  as  the  scripture 
saith  of  Naaman,  2  Kings  v.  1,  'A  great  man,  an  honourable  man,  a 
mighty  man,  but  he  was  a  leper.'  They  say  he  is  thus  and  thus,  but, 
&c. ;  and  so  wound  while  they  pretend  to  kiss.  They  make  their 
praise  but  a  preface  to  their  reproach,  which  is  but  as  an  archer  that 
draweth  back  his  hand,  that  the  arrow  may  fly  with  the  more  force. 
It  was  a  great  praise  that  Jerome  gave  Asella,  Habebat  silentium 
loquens — she  was  silent  when  she  spake ;  for  she  spake  only  of  reli 
gious  and  necessary  things,  not  meddling  with  others'  persons  or  fame. 
(5.)  Kibaldry.  Filthy  'rotten  communication/  Col.  iii.  8;  ad-jrpos 
Xo7o?,  '  filthy  speaking,'  Eph.  v.  4.  Many  travel  under  the  burthen 
of  a  profane  jest.  Oh !  the  filthy  breath  that  cometh  out  of  their 
mouths !  All  foolish  jesting  cometh  under  this  head.  Aristotle's 
virtue,  evrpa7re\ia,  is  a  sin  with  Paul,  Eph.  v.  4. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  but  deceiveth  himself.  Hypocrites  come  at  length 
to  deceive  themselves.  A  liar,  by  repeating  his  lies,  beginneth  to 
believe  them.  Natural  conscience  is  pacified  with  a  show.  It  is  just 
with  God  to  punish  deceit  with  deceit.  And  as  they  cozen  others,  so 
they  deceive  their  own  souls  ;  as  the  carver  fell  in  love  with  an  image  of 
his  own  making,  and  thought  it  living.  Hypocrisy  endeth  in  hardness 
and  gross  blindness,  and  by  custom  men  dote  upon  that  which  at 
first  they  knew  was  but  paint  and  varnish ;  as  if  God  would  be  as 
easily  mocked  and  deceived  as  men. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  this  man's  religion  is  vain.  Pretended  religion  will 
be  fruitless :  shows  are  nullities  with  God.  Of  all  things,  a  man  cannot 
endure  that  his  serious  actions  shall  be  in  vain  and  to  no  purpose ;  for 
there  usually  hope  is  more  strong,  and  therefore  the  disappointment 
must  needs  be  the  more  vexatious.  This  will  be  no  small  part  of 
your  torment  in  hell,  to  think  that  all  your  profession  is  come  to  this. 
I  prophesied  in  Christ's  name,  in  his  name  I  wrought  miracles.  I 
conferred,  repeated,  closed  with  the  better  side,  to  my  loss  and  disad 
vantage,  and  yet  am  I  now  in  hell.  Oh  !  how  sad  will  such  discourses 
be  in  the  place  of  torment !  Oh  !  consider,  the  greater  rise  your  hope 
had,  the  more  bruising  and  crushing  will  your  fall  be,  as  a  stone  that 
falleth  from  a  high  place  is  broken  to  powder. 

Ver.  27. — Pure  religion  and  undefiled  before  God  and  the  Father, 
is  this,  to  visit  the  fatherless  and  the  widows  in  their  affliction,  and 
to  keep  himself  unspotted  from  the  world. 

Here  the  apostle  cometh  to  the  positive  part  of  the  trial.  As  he 
must  not  do  hurt,  lest  his  religion  prove  vain  ;  so  he  must  do  good, 
that  it  may  be  found  pure  and  undefiled. 

From  the  context  observe  : — 

Obs.  Negatives  in  religion  are  not  enough :  he  must  refrain  his 
tongue,  and  he  must  visit  the  fatherless.  Our  duty  should  carry  pro 
portion  with  the  divine  grace  to  us.  God's  mercies  are  not  only  priva 
tive  but  positive ;  he  doth  not  only  bring  us  out  of  hell,  but  put  us 

174  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.   I.  27. 

under  an  assurance  of  glory.  It  was  Absalom's  misery  to  be  only 
acquitted  from  the  punishment,  but  not  to  see  the  king's  face.  God's 
grace  is  more  entirely  dispensed ;  we  are  taken  out  of  a  state  of  wrath 
into  a  state  of  love.  God's  terms  to  Abraham  were,  to  be  '  a  shield 
and  an  exceeding  great  reward  ;'  to  be  a  protector,  and  a  saviour  ;  and 
to  all  the  faithful,  '  a  sun  and  a  shield/  Ps.  Ixxxiv.  11.  A  shield 
against  danger,  and  a  sun,  the  cause  of  all  vegetation,  life,  and  bless 
ing.  Now  we  should  imitate  our  heavenly  Father ;  we  should  not 
rest  in  a  bare  removal  of  evil,  but  be  careful  of  that  which  is  good  : 
there  should  be  not  only  an  abstinence  from  grosser  sins,  but 
a  care  to  maintain  communion  with  God.  The  descriptions  of  the 
word  are  negative  and  positive  :  c  Walketh  not  in  the  counsel  of  the 
ungodly,  but  walketh  in  the  ways  of  the  Lord/  Ps.  i.  1,  2  ;  so  Kom. 
viii.  1,  '  Walk  not  after  the  flesh,  but  after  the  spirit.'  Some  are  not 
drunkards,  not  outwardly  vicious  ;  but  are  they  godly  ?  Is  there  any 
savour  and  power  of  religion  ?  Are  there  any  motions  and  feelings  of 
the  spiritual  life  within  their  souls  ?  God,  that  hateth  sin,  delighteth  in 
grace  ;  to  be  less  evil,  at  the  best,  will  but  procure  you  a  cooler  hell. 
It  is  vulgarly  observed,  that  the  Pharisee's  religion  ran  upon  nots, 
Luke  xviii.  11.  It  is  not  enough  to  live  civilly  and  do  no  man  wrong ; 
there  must  be  grace,  and  the  exercise  of  grace.  I  observe,  that  sins 
trouble  the  conscience  more  than  want  of  grace,  partly  because  con 
science  doth  not  use  to  smite  for  spiritual  defects,  and  partly  because 
sins  work  an  actual  distemper  and  disturbance  to  reason.  Oh  !  but 
consider ;  he  that  wanteth  good  works  is  as  much  hated  of  God  as  the 
outwardly  vicious  ;  and  the  barren  tree  is  cut  down  as  well  as  the 
poisonous  tree — if  it  bear  no  fruit  as  well  as  if  it  bear  ill  fruit.  It  is  not 
enough  for  a  servant  that  he  doth  his  master  no  hurt ;  he  must  do  his 
master's  work  :  in  the  Gospel,  he  had  not  misspent  his  talent,  but  hid 
it  in  a  napkin. 

But  I  come  to  the  words.  In  the  verse  he  presseth  them  to  works 
of  charity,  and  an  holy  conversation,  that  so  they  might  both  show 
themselves  to  be  truly  religious,  and  that  their  profession  was  that 
pure  and  immaculate  faith  which  Christian  religion  propoundeth. 

Pure  religion,  and  undefiled. — He  doth  not  set  down  what  is  the 
whole  nature  of  religion,  but  only  some  particular  testimonies  of  it. 
Keligion  also  requireth  faith  and  worship,  but  the  truth  of  these  is 
evidenced  by  charity  and  an  holy  life  ;  and,  therefore,  the  anti-scrip- 
turists  of  our  days  grossly  pervert  this  place,  and  the  scope  of  the 
apostle,  when  they  would  make  all  religion  to  consist  in  these  outward 
acts;  for  the  apostle  is  dealing  with  hypocrites,  who  pretended  faith  and 
worship,  neglecting  charity. 

Before  God  and  the  Father  is  this  ;  that  is,  before  God,  who  is  the 
Father  of  Christ,  and  us  in  him.  The  like  phrase  is  used  in  many 
other  places  :  2  Cor.  i.  3, '  Blessed  be  the  God  and  Father  of  our  Lord 
Jesus  Christ;'  so  Eph.  i.  3 ;  so  Eph.  v.  20,  'To  the  God,  and  the 
Father,  in  the  name  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ : '  and  he  saith,  '  Before 
God/  that  is,  in  his  eye,  and  his  esteem.  Hypocrites  may  deceive  men, 
for  they  see  only  what  is  without ;  but  God  the  Father  judgeth 
rightly.  And  also  this  is  mentioned  to  imply  the  sincerity  of  such 
Christian  offices ;  they  should  be  done  as  in  the  presence  of  God. 

JAS.  I.  27.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  175 

To  visit. — Under  this  word  by  a  synecdoche  are  comprehended  all 
duties  of  love.  To  visit,  is  to  comfort  them  in  their  misery,  to  relieve 
them  in  their  necessities  ;  and  under  this  one  kind  of  charity  are  com 
prehended  all  duties  to  our  neighbour. 

The  fatherless  and  the  widoivs. — These  are  specified,  but  others  are 
not  excluded  :  there  are  other  objects  of  charity,  as  the  poor,  the  sick, 
the  captive,  the  stranger,  which  are  also  spoken  of  in  scriptures.  But 
the  fatherless  and  widows  do  most  usually  want  relief,  and  are  most 
liable  to  neglect  and  oppression.  They  are  often  mentioned  elsewhere 
in  scripture  ;  as  Isa.  i.  17,  '  Judge  the  fatherless,  plead  for  the  widow ;' 
so  Ps.  cxlvi.  9  ;  so  Prov.  xv.  25,  and  xxiii.  10. 

In  their  affliction ;  that  is,  in  their  straits,  and  when  most  op 
pressed;  and  this  is  added  lest  men  should  think  their  duty  per 
formed  by  visiting  those  amongst  the  fatherless  and  widows  that  are 
rich  and  wealthy. 

And  to  keep  himself  unspotted. — This  is  coupled  with  the  former 
duty,  to  show  the  inseparable  connection  that  should  be  between 
charity  and  holiness,  and  to  show  that  that  religion  is  false  which 
doth  not  teach  holiness  as  well  as  charity  :  as  Papists  sever  them,  and 
cry  up  charity  as  a  merit  to  expiate  the  defect  of  holiness. 

From  the  world. — The  world,  when  it  is  taken  in  an  ill  sense,  is 
sometimes  put  for  the  men  of  the  world,  and  sometimes  for  the  lusts 
of  the  world :  1  John  ii.  15,  '  Whatever  is  in  the  world  is  either  the 
lusts  of  the  eyes,  the  lusts  of  the  flesh,  or  the  pride  of  life.'  Now,  to 

*  keep  ourselves  unspotted  from  the  world/  is  to  keep  ourselves  from 
the  taint  and  infection  of  an  evil  example,  and  the  prevalency  and 
sovereignty  of  worldly  lusts. 

Out  of  this  verse  observe : — 

06s.  1.  That  it  is  the  glory  of  religion  when  it  is  pure :  Ps.  xix., 
'  The  commandment  of  the  Lord  is  pure ; '  no  doctrine  so  holy  in 
itself,  and  maketh  such  provision  for  good  life.  False  religions  are 
descried  by  their  impurity.  God  suffereth  false  worshippers  to  fall 
into  obscenities,  that  they  may  draw  a  just  scorn  upon  themselves, 
Kom.  i.  Popery  is  no  friend  to  good  life  :  pardons  set  at  sale  make 
way  for  looseness.  The  true  Christian  religion  is  called  '  a  holy  faith,' 
Jude  20.  No  faith  goeth  so  high  for  rewards,  nor  is  so  holy  for 
precepts.  Well,  then,  an  impure  life  will  not  suit  with  a  holy  faith. 
Precious  liquor  must  be  kept  in  a  clean  vessel,  and  '  the  mystery  of  the 
faith '  held  '  in  a  pure  conscience/  1  Tim.  iii.  9.  We  never  suit  with 
our  religion  more  than  when  the  way  is  undefiled  and  the  heart  pure : 

*  Blessed  are  the  undefiled  in  the  way/  Ps.  cxix.  1 ;    and  again, 
'  Blessed  are  the  pure  in  heart/  Mat.  v.  8. 

Obs.  2.  That  a  pure  religion  should  be  kept  undefiled.  A  holy  life 
and  a  bounteous  heart  are  ornaments  to  the  gospel.  Keligion  is  not 
adorned  with  ceremonies,  but  purity  and  charity.  The  apostle 
speaketh  of  making  the  doctrine  of  God  our  Saviour  comely,  _  Titus 
ii.  10.  It  is  with  us  either  to  credit  or  to  stain  our  religion  : 

*  Wisdom  is/  or  should  be,  'justified  of  her  children/  Mat.  xi.  19. 
By  the  innocency  of  their  lives  they  bring  a  glory  to  their  way.     So 
also  a  bountiful  man  is  an  honour  to  his  profession,  whereas  a 
covetous  man  sullieth  it ;  as  the  apostle  saith,  Rom.  v.  7,  '  For  a 

176  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  27. 

righteous  man  would  one  scarcely  die,  but  for  a  good  man  would  one 
even  dare  to  die.'  A  man  of  a  severe  innocency  is  hated  rather  than 
loved,  but  a  good  or  bountiful  man  gaineth  upon  the  hearts  of  others  ; 
they  would  even  die  for  him. 

Obs.  3.  A  great  fruit  and  token  of  piety  is  provision  for  the 
afflicted.  In  the  25th  of  Matthew  you  see  acts  of  charity  fill  up  the 
bill.  Works  of  mercy  do  well  become  them  that  do  expect  or  have 
received  mercy  from  God;  this  is  to  be  like  God,  and  we  should 
never  come  to  him,  or  go  away  from  him,  but  with  somewhat  of  his 
image  in  our  hearts :  dissimilitude  and  disproportion  is  the  ground  of 
dislike.  Now  one  of  the  chief  glories  in  the  Godhead  is  the  un- 
weariedness  of  his  love  and  bounty :  he  visits  the  fatherless  and  the 
widows ;  so  should  we :  the  spirit  of  our  religion  is  forgiving ;  and 
therefore  the  cruel  hard  heart  is  made  by  Paul  a  kind  of  '  denying  the 
faith/  1  Tim.  v.  8. 

Obs.  4.  Charity  singleth  out  the  objects  that  are  most  miserable. 
The  apostle  saith,  '  the  widows  and  fatherless,'  and  that  *  in  their 
afflictions/  That  is  true  bounty  when  we  give  to  those  that  are  not 
able  to  make  requital :  Luke  xiv.  12-14,  '  When  thou  makest  a 
dinner  or  supper,  call  not  thy  brethren,  or  friends,  or  rich  neigh 
bours/  &c.  We  cannot  do  the  least  duty  for  God  but  we  have  some 
self  aims.  We  make  our  giving  many  times  to  be  a  kind  of  selling,  and 
mind  our  advantage  in  our  charity.  Oh !  consider,  our  sweetest  influ 
ences  should  fall  on  the  lower  grounds  :  to  visit  the  rich  widows  is  but 
courtesy  ;  to  visit  the  poor,  and  that  in  their  affliction,  that  is  charity. 

Obs.  5.  This  charity  to  the  poor  must  be  performed  as  worship,  out 
of  respect  to  God.  The  apostle  saith  to  visit  the  fatherless  is  0pijcr- 
fceta,  worship.  A  Christian  hath  a  holy  art  of  turning  duties  of  the 
second  fctable  into  duties  of  the  first ;  and  in  respect  to  man,  they 
worship  God.  So  Heb.  xiii,  16,  'To  do  good,  and  to  communicate, 
forget  not ;  for  with  such  sacrifice  God  is  well  pleased/  To  do  good 
is  a  duty  of  the  second  table ;  and  sacrifice,  while  it  was  a  part  of 
God's  worship,  a  duty  of  the  first.  Well,  then,  alms  should  be 
sacrifice  ;  not  a  sin-offering,  but  a  thank-offering  to  God.  This  is  the 
difference  between  a  Christian  and  others,  he  can  make  commerce 
worship.  In  common  business  he  acteth  upon  reasons  and  principles 
of  religion,  and  whatever  he  doth  to  man,  he  doth  it  for  God's  sake, 
out  of  love  to  God,  fear  of  God.  The  world  is  led  by  interest,  and 
they  by  conscience.  The  men  of  the  world  are  tied  one  to  another, 
like  Samson's  foxes  by  their  tails,  by  their  mutual'  intertwisted 
interests ;  but  they,  in  all  their  relations,  do  what  they  do  as  in  and 
to  the  Lord,  Eph.  v.  22 ;  so  Eph.  vi.  1  ;  so  ver.  7,  et  alibi.  Well, 
then,  we  must  be  tender  of  the  end  and  reason  of  our  actions  in  civil 
respects :  alms  is  worship  and  sacrifice,  and  therefore  not  to  be  offered 
to  the  idol  of  our  own  credit  and  esteem,  or  to  be  done  out  of  private 
ends,  but  in  obedience  to  God,  and  for  his  glory. 

Obs.  6.  From  that  before  God.  True  religion  and  profession  is  rather 
for  God's  eye  than  man's.  It  aimeth  at  the  approbation  of  God,  not 
ostentation  before  men.  David  saith,  Ps.  xviii.  23,  *  I  have  been 
upright  before  thee,  and  kept  myself  from  my  iniquity/  That  is  a 
fruit  of  true  uprightness,  to  draw  all  our  actions  into  the  presence  of 

JAS.  I.  27.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  177 

God,  and  to  do  what  we  do  before  him.  So  Ps.  xvi.  8,  '  I  have  set 
the  Lord  always  before  me/  In  every  action  he  was  thinking  of  the 
eye  of  God  ;  will  this  be  an  action  for  God's  notice  and  approbation  ? 
So  Ps.  cxix.  168,  '  I  have  kept  thy  testimonies ;  for  all  my  ways  are 
before  thee/  He  maketh  that  to  be  the  reason  of  the  integrity  of  his 
obedience,  '  My  ways  are  before  thee  ;'  under  the  observance  and 
inspection  of  God.  Hypocrites  cannot  endure  such  thoughts.  The 
prodigal  was  for  a  far  country,  away  from  his  father  ;  and  it  is  said, 
Job  xiii.  16,  'A  hypocrite  will  not  come  before  him  ;7  that  is,  be 
under  God's  eye  and  sight. 

Obs.  7.  From  that  before  God  and  the  Father.  We  serve  God 
most  comfortably  when  we  consider  him  as  a  Father  in  Christ.  Lord, 
Lord,  is  not  half  so  sweet  as  Our  Father.  Duty  in  the  covenant  of 
grace  is  far  more  comfortable,  not  only  as  we  have  more  help,  but 
because  it  is  done  in  a  sweeter  relation.  We  are  not  servants,  but 
have  received  the  adoption  of  sons.  Get  an  interest  in  God,  that  his 
work  may  be  sweet  to  you.  Mercies  yield  the  more  sweetness  when 
they  come  not  only  from  a  Creator,  but  a  Father ;  and  duties  are  done 
with  the  more  confidence  when  we  can  come  into  the  presence  of  God, 
not  as  servants,  but  sons.  A  servant  may  use  greater  industry  and 
pains  than  a  son,  and  yet  please  less. 

Obs.  8.  The  relieving  of  the  afflicted  and  the  unspotted  life  must 
go  together.  As  the  apostle  coupleth  them,  so  doth  Christ :  Mat.  v. 
7,  8,  '  Blessed  are  the  merciful,  for  they  shall  obtain  mercy ;'  and  then 
presently,  '  Blessed  are  the  pure  in  heart,  for  they  shall  see  God.' 
A  man  that  is  charitable  and  not  pure,  is  better  to  others  than  to 
himself.  Goodness  and  righteousness  are  often  coupled  in  the  Old 
Testament :  Micah  vi.  8  ;  so  Dan.  iv.  27.  It  is  strange  that  men  should 
so  grossly  separate  what  God  hath  joined.  There  are  some  that  are 
'  pure  in  their  own  eyes,'  but  content  themselves  with  a  cheap  and 
barren  profession.  Others  are  vicious  and  loose,  and  they  are  all  for 
acts  of  charity  and  mercy ;  and  so  covetousness  lurketh  under  the  veil 
of  profession  on  the  one  side,  and  on  the  other  men  hope  to  recom 
pense  God  for  the  excesses  of  an  ill  life  by  a  liberal  profusion,  as  if 
the  emptying  of  the  purse  were  a  way  to  ease  the  conscience.  Well, 
then,  let  the  hand  be  open  and  the  heart  pure.  You  must  '  visit  the 
fatherless  and  the  widow/  and  '  keep  yourselves  unspotted  from  the 

Obs.  9.  The  world  is  a  dirty,  defiling  thing.  A  man  can  hardly 
walk  here  but  he  shall  defile  his  garments.  (1.)  The  very  things  of 
the  world  leave  a  taint  upon  our  spirits.  By  worldly  objects  we  soon 
grow  worldly.  It  is  hard  to  touch  pitch  and  not  to  be  defiled.  We 
see  in  other  things  that  our  minds  receive  a  tincture  from  those  objects 
with  which  we  usually  converse.  Christ  prayeth,  John  xvii.  15,  'I 
pray  not  that  thou  shouldst  take  them  out  of  the  world,  but  keep  them 
from  the  evil  of  the  world/  Christ  knew  what  a  temptation  it  is  to 
live  here  in  the  midst  of  honours,  and  pleasures,  and  profits.  It  was 
a  happy  thing  that  Paul  could  say,  Gal.  vi.  14,  '  I  am  crucified  to 
the  world,  and  the  world  is  crucified  to  me/  The  world  hated  him, 
and  he  did  not  care  for  the  world.  The  world  is  crucified  to  many, 
but  they  are  not  crucified  to  it ;  they  follow  after  a  flying  shadow. 

VOL.  iv.  M 

178  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  I.  27. 

(2.)  The  lusts  of  the  world,  they  stain  the  glory  and  deface  the  excel 
lency  of  your  natures  :  '  Corruption  is  in  the  world  through  lust/ 
2  Peter  i.  4.  Your  affections  were  made  for  higher  purposes  than  to 
be  melted  out  in  lusts.  To  love  the  pleasures  of  the  world,  it  is  as  if 
you  should  defile  your  bed  with  a  blackamoor,  and  be  so  sick  of  lust 
as  to  hug  nastiness.  and  embrace  the  dung,  Lam.  iv.  5.  (3.)  The  men 
of  the  world  are  sooty,  dirty  creatures.  We  cannot  converse  with 
them  but  they  leave  their  filthiness  upon  us.  The  apostle  saith, 
2  Tim.  ii.  21,  '  If  a  man  purge  himself  from  these,  he  shall  be  a  vessel 
of  honour,  sanctified  and  meet  for  the  master's  use/  From  these,  that 
is,  from  the  leprosy  of  evil  examples,  for  the  apostle  speaketh  of  those 
vessels  of  dishonour  that  are  in  the  great  house  of  God,  the  world, 
which  a  man  cannot  touch  without  defilement.  A  man  cannot  hold 
any  communion  with  them,  but  he  shall  be  the  worse  for  them. 
'  These  are  spots  in  your  love-feasts,'  Jude  12 ;  they  defile  the 

Well,  then — (1.)  Let  us  more  and  more  grow  weary  of  the  world. 
A  man  that  would  always  live  here  is  like  a  scullion  that  loveth  to  lie 
among  the  pots.  In  those  blessed  mansions  that  are  above,  '  there 
shall  in  no  wise  enter  anything  that  defileth,  neither  whatsoever 
worketh  abomination,'  Kev.  xxi.  27.  There  we  shall  have  pure  com 
pany,  and  be  out  of  the  reach  and  danger  of  temptations.  There  are 
no  devils  in  heaven  ;  they  were  cast  out  long  since,  2  Peter  ii.  6,  and 
you  are  to  fill  up  their  vacant  rooms  and  places.  The  devil,  when  he 
was  not  fit  for  heaven,  he  was  cast  into  the  world,  a  fit  place  for 
misery,  sin,  arid  torment ;  and  now  this  is  the  devil's  walk.  He  com- 
passeth  the  earth  to  and  fro.  Who  would  be  in  love  with  a  place  of 
bondage  ?  with  Satan's  diocese  ?  that  odd,  dirty  corner  of  the  uni 
verse,  where  a  man  can  hardly  move  back  or  forth,  but  he  shall  be 
defiled?  (2.)  While  we  live  here,  let  us  keep  ourselves  as  unspotted 
as  we  can.  In  a  place  of  snares,  we  should  walk  with  the  more  care  : 
Kev.  iii.  4,  'There  are  a  few  names  that  have  not  defiled  their 
garments ;  they  shall  walk  with  me  in  white.'  There  are  some,  though 
few,  that  escape  the  taint  of  the  world.  You  are  kept  by  the  power 
of  God ;  yet,  in  some  sense,  you  must  keep  yourselves  :  you  are  to 
'  watch,  and  keep  your  garments,'  Kev.  xvi.  15.  You  are  to  act  faith 
upon  the  victory  of  Christ,  by  which  '  he  hath  overcome  the  world/  1 
John  v,  4.  You  are  to  commend  yourselves  to  God  in  prayer,  that  he 
may  keep  and  '  present  you  faultless  before  the  presence  of  his  glory/ 
Jude  24.  You  are  to  discourse  upon  the  promises,  and  to  work  them 
into  your  hearts  by  spiritual  reasoning,  that  you  may  '  escape  the  cor 
ruption  that  is  in  the  world  through  lust/  2  Peter  i.  4,  and  2  Cor.  vii. 
1.  You  are  to  avoid  communion  with  the  lepers  of  the  world  :  we 
should  learn  a  holy  pride,1  and  scorn  such  company.  A  man  that 
keepeth  ill  company  is  like  him  that  walketh  in  the  sun,  tanned 
insensibly.  All  these  things  you  must  do.  It  is  a  folly  to  think 
that  because  the  power  is  from  God,  therefore  the  care  should  not  be 
in  ourselves. 

1 '  Discamus  sanctam  superbiam,  et  sciamus  nos  esse  illis  meliores.'—  Hieron. 

JAS.  II.  1.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  179 


VER.  1.  My  brethren,  have  not  the  faith  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  the 
Lord  of  glory,  with  respect  of  persons. 

This  chapter  containeth  two  special  admonitions,  which  were  very 
needful  as  the  state  of  things  then  were.  The  first  is  against  '  re 
spect  of  persons/  because  of  outward  advantages,  especially  in  church 
matters.  The  other  is  against  a  vain  opinion  and  ostentation  of 
faith,  where  there  was  no  presence  or  testimony  of  works  to  commend 
it.  He  dealeth  in  the  former  admonition  from  the  1st  verse  to 
the  14th.  And  in  the  latter  from  thence  to  the  end  of  the 

In  this  1st  verse  he  propoundeth  the  matter  to  them  which  he 
would  have  them  to  avoid,  *  respect  of  persons '  because  of  some  out 
ward  excellency,  which  hath  no  kind  of  affinity  or  pertinency  at  all  to 
religion.  The  sense  will  be  most  clear  by  a  particular  explication  of 
the  words. 

My  brethren. — An  usual  compilation  throughout  the  epistle. 
Some  think  he  chiefly  intendeth  in  this  expression  the  presbyters  and 
deacons,  who  had  a  great  hand  (say  they)  in  giving  every  one  their  con 
venient  places.  But  I  know  no  reason  why  we  should  so  restrain  it, 
it  being  applied  in  all  the  other  passages  of  the  epistle  to  the  whole 
body  of  those  to  whom  he  wrote  ;  and  here,  where  he  dissuadeth 
them  from  respect  of  persons,  it  seemeth  to  have  a  special  respect,  as 
noting  the  equal  interest  of  all  Christians  in  the  same  Father. 

Have  not  the  faith. — Faith  is  not  taken  strictly,  but  more  generally 
for  the  profession  of  Christian  religion,  or  the  manifestations  of  the 
grace  of  Christ  in  the  souls  of  his  people.  The  meaning  is,  have  not 
grace,  have  not  religion,  &c. 

Of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ. — He  doth  not  mean  the  personal  faith  of 
Christ,  or,  as  some  accommodate  the  expression,  faith  wrought  by 
Christ.  This  manner  of  speech  doth  not  note  the  author  so  much  as 
the  object.  Faith  of  Christ,  in  the  intent  of  the  scripture,  is  faith  in 
Christ ;  as  Gral.  ii.  20,  '  I  live  by  the  faith  of  the  Son  of  God  ; '  so 
Eph.  iii.  12,  '  We  have  confidence,  and  access,  by  the  faith  of  him  ; ' 
so  Phil.  iii.  9,  '  The  righteousness  which  is  through  the  faith  of 
Christ ; '  and  so  elsewhere.  Now  Christ  is  here  called  our  Lord, 
because  it  is  the  proper  term  for  him  as  mediator  and  head  of  the 
Church,  and  by  virtue  of  our  common  and  equal  interest  in  him  :  the 
head  is  dishonoured  in  the  disrespect  of  the  members. 

The  Lord  of  glory. — Some  read,  ( The  faith  of  the  glory  of  Christ 
with  respect  of  persons  ; '  that  is,  do  not  measure  the  glorious  faith  by 
these  outward  and  secular  advantages,  or  '  the  faith  of  our  glorious 
Lord  Jesus  Christ ; '  for  we  supply  the  word  Lord,  which  is  but  once 
in  the  original,  partly  because  he  is  called  so  in  other  places  :  1  Cor. 
ii.  8, '  They  would  not  have  crucified  the  Lord  of  glory ;'  partly  because 
it  is  fitly  repeated  out  of  the  context ;  partly  because  in  this  place 
it  hath  the  force  of  an  argument.  Christianity  being  a  relation  to 
the  Lord  of  glory,  putteth  honour  enough  upon  men,  though  other 
wise  poor  and  despicable ;  and  if  men  did  believe  Christ  were 


glorious,  they  would  not  so  easily  despise  those  in  whom  there  is  the 
least  of  Christ. 

With  respect  of  persons,  evrrpoo-coTroXrjtyLais. — Respect  of  persons  is 
had  when,  in  the  same  cause,  we  give  more  or  less  to  any  one  than  is 
meet,  because  of  something  in  his  person  which  hath  no  relation  to 
that  cause.  The  word  properly  signifieth  accepting  of  one's  face  or 
outside,  and  so  noteth  a  respect  to  others  out  of  a  consideration  of  some 
external  glory  that  we  find  in  them.  The  phrase,  when  it  is  used  in 
the  Old  Testament,  is  rendered  by  the  Septuagint  by  Oav/jud^v  TO 
7rp6cra)7rov,1  wondering  at  a  man's  face,  as  being  overcome  and  dazzled 
at  the  beauty  of  it ;  which  probably  gave  occasion  to  that  expression  of 
St  Jude,  ver.  16,  Oav^dfyvres  irpoawira,  which  we  render,  '  having 
men's  persons  in  admiration  because  of  advantage/  But,  before  we 
go  on,  we  must  rightly  pitch  and  state  the  offence  from  which  our 
apostle  dissuadeth,  for  otherwise  absurdities  will  follow.  Civility  and 
humanity  calleth  for  outward  respect  and  reverence  to  them  that 
excel  in  the  world.  To  rise  up  to  a  rich  man  is  not  simply  evil.  If 
all  difference  of  persons,  and  respect  to  them,  were  sinful,  there 
would  be  no  place  for  government  and  mastership.  Therefore  I  shall 
inquire : — 

I.  What  respect  of  persons  is  sinful. 

II.  The  particular  abuse  which  the  apostle  taxeth  and  noteth  in  this 

First,  What  respect  of  persons  is  sinful?  There  is  a  holy  and 
warrantable  respect  of  persons  either  by  God  or  men : — (1.)  By  God  ; 
he  is  said  to  '  accept  the  faces  '  of  his  people,  Gen.  xix.  21 — naschati 
panecha,  so  it  is  in  the  Hebrew ;  and  so  elsewhere  God  is  often  said 
to  respect  their  persons ;  their  persons  first,  and  then  their  services. 
(2.)  By  men,  when  we  prefer  others  out  of  a  due  cause,  their  age, 
calling,  gifts,  graces :  yea,  it  is  lawful  to  put  a  respect  upon  them  be 
cause  of  that  outward  glory  and  excellency  wherewith  God  hath 
furnished  them.  There  is  a  respect  proper  and  due  to  their  persons, 
though  not  so  much  for  their  own  sakes  as  for  the  bounty  of  God  to 
them ;  as  they  that  bowed  before  the  ass  that  carried  about  the  rites 
of  Isis,  non  tibi,  sed  religioni,  did  obeisance  to  the  religion,  not  the 

But  then  there  is  a  vicious  respect  of  persons,  when  the  judgment 
is  blinded  by  some  external  glory  and  appearance,  so  that  we  cannot 
discern  truth  or  right,  and  a  cause  is  over-balanced  by  such  foreign 
circumstances  as  have  no  affinity  with  it.  Thus  it  is  said,  Lev. 
xix.  15,  '  Thou  shalt  not  respect  the  person  of  the  poor,  nor  honour 
the  mighty ;  but  in  righteousness  shalt  thou  judge  thy  neighbour.' 
Neither  swayed  with  foolish  pity,  on  the  one  hand,  nor  with  respect  to 
might,  power,  friendship,  greatness,  on  the  other ;  as  usually  those  are 
the  two  prejudices  against  the  execution  of  justice :  either  carnal  pity 
saith,  He  is  a  poor  man,  or  else  carnal  fear  saith,  He  is  a  great  man ; 
and  so  the  outward  accidents  of  life  are  rather  valued  than  the  merits 
of  the  cause.  So  Deut.  i.  17,  '  Thou  shalt  not  respect  persons  in 
judgment,  but  hear  the  small  as  well  as  great/ 

Secondly,  What  is  this  particular  offence  which  the  apostle  calleth 

1  See  Cartw.  in  Gen.  xix.  21. 

JAS.  II.  1.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  181 

the  '  having  the  faith  of  Christ  in  respect  of  persons/  which  was  the 
sin  of  those  times  ?  I  answer — (1.)  In  the  general,  their  having  too 
great  a  care  of  these  differences  and  outward  regards  in  their  church 
administrations,  both  in  their  worship,  and  courts,  and  censures,  as  we 
shall  show  in  the  next  verse.  In  the  things  of  God  all  are  equal ; 
rich  and  poor  stand  upon  the  same  level  and  terms  of  advantage.  Our 
salvation  is  called  '  a  common  salvation,'  Jiule  3  ;  and  the  faith  of  all, 
for  the  essence  and  object  of  it,  'a  like  precious  faith,'  2  Peter  i.  1. 
But  now  their  respects  were  only  carried  out  to  those  that  lived  in 
some  splendour  in  the  world,  with  a  manifest  and  sensible  contempt 
of  their  poor  brethren,  as  if  they  were  unworthy  their  company  and 
converse  ;  as  appeareth  not  only  by  the  present  context,  but  by  chap, 
i.  8,  9,  where  he  comforteth  the  poor  despised  brethren,  showing  that 
grace  was  their  preferment;  and  1  Cor.  x.  1,  from  ver.  19  onward, 
*  Every  one  took  his  own  supper ;  '  ver.  22,  but  '  despised  the  church 
of  God ; '  that  is,  excluded  the  poor,  who  were  the  church  as  well  as 
they.  So  that  mark,  there  was  not  only  a  difference  made  between 
the  poor  and  the  rich,  but  great  reverence  showed  to  the  one,  with 
a  proud  contempt  of  the  other.  (2.)  More  particularly — (1st.) 
They  over-esteemed  the  rich,  doing  all  the  grace  and  reverence  they 
could  devise  in  the  congregation  and  courts  of  judicature  ;  yea,  they 
went  so  far  as  to  esteem  the  wicked  rich  above  the  godly  poor,  honour 
ing  and  observing  those  that  were  apt  to  hale  them  to  the  judgment- 
seats.  (2d.)  They  debased  the  poor,  not  considering  them  according 
to  their  eminency  in  grace  and  high  station  in  Christianity  ;  passing 
by  the  appearance  of  God  in  them,  without  any  mark  or  notice ;  yea, 
they  offered  injury  and  contumely  to  them,  because  of  their  outward 
abasure  and  despicableness,  out  of  a  proud  insolence,  scarce  behaving 
themselves  towards  them  as  men,  much  less  as  Christians. 

The  notes  are  these: — 

Obs.  1.  That  respect  of  persons  in  religious  matters  is  a  sin.  We 
maybe  many  ways  guilty  of  it: — (1.)  By  making  external  things, 
not  religion,  the  ground  of  our  respect  and  affection.  The  apostle 
saith,  2  Cor.  v.  16,  '  Henceforth  know  we  no  man  after  the  flesh ; 
yea,  though  we  have  known  Christ  after  the  flesh,  yet  henceforth 
know  we  him  no  more.'  Knowing  after  the  flesh  is  to  love  and 
esteem  any  one  out  of  secular  and  outward  advantages.  Paul,  when 
a  Pharisee,  looked  for  a  Messiah  coming  in  outward  pomp  and  glory ; 
but  being  converted,  he  had  laid  aside  those  fleshly  thoughts  and 
apprehensions.  It  is  true  what  Solomon  saith,  'Wisdom  with  an 
inheritance  is  good.'  When  grace  and  outward  excellency  meet  to 
gether,  it  niaketh  the  person  more  lovely  ;  but  the  ground  and  rise 
of  our  affection  should  be  grace.  Love  to  the  brethren  is  an  evi 
dence,  but  we  should  be  careful  of  the  reason  of  that  love,  that 
we  love  them  qua  brethren,  because  of  that  of  God  which  we  see  in 
them.  That  saying  of  Tertuilian  is  usual,  We  must  not  judge  of 
faith  by  persons,  but  of  persons  by  faith.1  (2.)  When  we  do  not  carry 
out  the  measure  and  proportion  of  affection  according  to  the  measures 
and  proportions  of  grace,  and  pitch  our  respects  there  where  we  find 
the  ground  of  love  most  eminent.  David's  delights  were  *  to  the  saints, 

1  '  Nori  judicamus  ex  personis  fidem,  sed  ex  fide  personas.' — Tertul. 


and  the  excellent  of  the  earth/  Ps.  xvi.  3 ;  that  is,  to  those  which  were 
most  eminent  among  them.  Some  prefer  a  cold,  neutral  profession 
before  real  grace,  will  not  own  mean  Christians  by  any  familiarity  and 
converse,  though  the  power  and  brightness  of  God's  image  shine  forth 
most  clearly  in  them.  The  apostle  saith,  1  Cor.  xii.  23,  '  We  bestow 
most  honour  on  the  uncomely  parts/  Those  who  have  least  of  worldly 
pomp  and  grace,  if  they  excel  in  Christ,  should  have  most  of  Christian 
respect  and  honour.  (3.)  When  we  can  easily  make  greatness  a  cover 
for  baseness,  and  excuse  sin  by  honour,  whereas  that  is  the  aggrava 
tion  ;  the  advantage  of  greatness  maketh  sin  the  more  eminent  and 
notable.  It  is  good  to  note  with  what  freedom  the  scriptures  speak  of 
wicked  persons  in  the  highest  honour :  Dan.  iv.  17,  he  giveth  king 
doms  '  to  the  basest  of  men  ;'  the  world  cannot  think  as  basely  of  the 
children  of  God,  but  the  word  speaketh  as  basely  of  them.  The 
Turkish  empire,  as  great  as  it  is,  saith  Luther,  it  is  but  a  morsel,  which 
the  master  of  the  house  throweth  to  dogs.1  David  maketh  it  a  de 
scription  of  a  godly  man,  Ps.  xv.  4,  '  In  whose  eyes  a  vile  person  is 
contemned,  but  he  honoureth  them  that  fear  the  Lord";'/  let  him  be 
what  he  will  be,  if  he  be  a  wicked  person,  he  is  to  them  a  vile  person. 
How  low  was  that  evil  king  in  the  eyes  of  the  holy  prophet !  2  Kings 
iii.  14,  '  Were  it  not  that  I  regarded  the  presence  of  Jehoshaphat,  the 
King  of  Judah,  I  would  not  look  towards  thee,  nor  see  thee/  (4.) 
When  we  yield  religious  respects,  give  testimonies  to  men  for  advan 
tage,  and,  under  pretence  of  religion,  servilely  addict  ourselves  to  men 
for  base  ends  ;  this  Jude  noteth  in  that  expression,  Jude  16,  '  Having 
men's  persons  in  admiration  because  of  advantage/  The  apostle 
speaketh  of  some  heretics  that  were  otherwise  proud,  but  yet  for  ad 
vantage  fawning  and  servile,  as  usually  none  so  base-spirited  as  the 
proud  are,  when  it  may  make  for  their  worldly  profit.2  It  was  observed 
of  our  late  bishops,  by  one  of  their  own  party,3  that  (though  they  were 
otherwise  of  a  proud,  insulting  spirit)  they  were  willing  to  take  Ham's 
curse  upon  them,  that  they  might  domineer  in  the  tents  of  Shem  ;  to 
be  servi  servorum,  slaves  to  great  men-servants,  that  they  might  bear 
rule  over  the  tribe  of  Levi.  But  to  return  ;  this  is  a  clear  respect  of 
persons,  when  men  keep  at  a  distance,  and  are  proud  to  the  poor  ser 
vants  of  God,  but  can  crouch,  and  comply,  and  do  anything  for  profit 
and  advantage.  It  was  a  brave  resolution  that  of  Elihu,  Job  xxxii. 
21,  '  I  cannot  accept  any  man's  person  ;  I  know  not  to  give  flattering 
titles/  (5.)  When  church  administrations  are  not  carried  on  with  an 
indifferent  and  even  hand  to  rich  and  poor,  either  by  way  of  exhorta 
tion  or  censure.  By  way  of  exhortation :  Christ  died  for  both,  and  we 
must  have  a  care  of  both,  Exod.  xxx.  15 ;  the  poor  and  the  rich  were 
to  give  the  same  atonement  for  their  souls  ;  their  souls  were  as  pre 
cious  to  Christ  as  those  that  glitter  most  in  outward  pomp.  The 
apostle  saith,  '  We  are  debtors  both  to  the  bond  and  free/  Kom.  i.  14. 
Christ  saith  to  Peter,  '  Feed  my  lambs,'  as  well  as  '  Feed  my  sheep/ 
John  xxi.  So  for  censure  :  Micaiah  feared  not  Ahab,  nor  John  Baptist 

1  '  Turcicum  imperium,  quantum  quantum  est,  mica  est  quam  paterfamilias  canibus 
projicit.' — Luth. 

1  Ut  dominetur  aliis  prius  servit ;  curvatur  obsequio  ut  honors  donetur.' — Ambros. 
3  Dr  Jackson  in  his  Treatise  of  Faith,  part  ii.  c.  26,  p.  457. 

JAS.  II.  1.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  183 

Herod  and  the  Pharisees.  It  was  an  excellent  commendation  that 
which  they  gave  to  Christ,  Mark  xii.  14,  '  Thou  carest  for  no  man, 
and  regardest  the  person  of  no  man,  but  teachest  the  way  of  God  in 
truth.'  Ah !  we  should  learn  of  our  Lord  and  Master.  We  are  never 
true  ministers  of  Jesus  Christ  till  we  deal  alike  with  persons  that  are 
alike  in  themselves.  (6.)  When  we  contemn  the  truths  of  God  be 
cause  of  the  persons  that  bring  them  to  us.  Usually  we  regard  the 
man  rather  than  the  matter,  and  not  the  golden  treasure  so  much  as 
the  earthen  vessel  ;x  it  was  the  prejudice  cast  upon  Christ,  '  Is  not  this 
the  carpenter's  son  ? '  We  look  upon  the  cup  rather  than  the  liquor, 
and  consider  not  what,  but  tvho  bringeth  it.  Matheo  Langi,2  Arch 
bishop  of  Saltzburg,  told  every  one  that  the  reformation  of  the  mass 
was  needful,  the  liberty  of  meats  convenient,  and  to  be  disburdened 
of  so  many  commands  of  men  just ;  but  that  a  poor  monk  (meaning 
Luther)  should  reform  all  was  not  to  be  endured.  So  in  Christ's  time 
the  question  was  common,  '  Do  any  of  the  rulers  believe  in  him  ? ' 
Thus  you  see  we  are  apt  to  despise  excellent  things,  because  of  the 
despicableness  of  the  instrument :  '  The  poor  man  delivered  the 
city'  (saith  Solomon)  '  but  he  was  forgotten/  Eccles.  ix.  15,  16.  The 
same  words  have  a  different  acceptation,  because  of  the  different  esteem 
and  value  of  the  persons  engaged  in  them.  Erasmus  observed,  that 
what  was  accounted  orthodox  in  the  fathers,  was  condemned  as  heretical 
in  Luther.3  Thus  you  see  how  many  ways  in  religious  matters  we 
may  be  guilty  of  respect  of  persons. 

Use.  Oh !  consider  these  things.  It  is  a  heinous  evil,  and  a  na 
tural  evil.  We  are  marvellous  apt  to  think  that  there  is  no  emin- 
ency  but  what  consisteth  in  outward  greatness.  This  is  to  disvalue 
the  members  of  Christ ;  yea,  to  disvalue  Christ  himself :  '  He  that 
despiseth  the  poor,'  though  they  be  but  the  common  poor,  '  reproacheth 
their  maker/  Prov.  xvii.  5.  But  to  despise  poor  Christians  that  are 
again  renewed  to  the  image  of  God,  that  is  higher  ;  and  it  is  highest 
of  all  when  a  Christian  doth  despise  Christians  ;  as  it  is  far  worse  for 
a  scholar  to  disvalue  scholarship,  or  a  soldier  his  profession,  than  for 
other  men.  It  is  nothing  so  bad  in  worldly  men,  that  are  acquainted 
with  no  higher  glory.  Oh  !  consider  what  a  dishonour  it  is  to  Christ 
for  you  to  prefer  mammon  before  him,  as  if  wealth  could  put  a  greater 
value  upon  a  person  than  grace. 

Obs.  2.  That  Jesus  Christ  is  a  glorious  Lord,  not  only  in  regard  of  his 
own  person,  which  is  'the  brightness  of  his  Father's  glory/  Heb.  i.  3,  or  in 
regard  of  his  present  exaltation,  whereby  he  hath  '  a  name  above  all 
names/  Phil:  ii.  9.  Not  only  as  he  enjoyeth  it  in  himself,  but  as  he 
dispenseth  it  to  others.  He  will  give  you  as  much  glory  as  your  hearts 
can  wish  for.  He  putteth  an  honour  upon  you  for  the  present.  You 
may  be  sure  you  shall  not  be  disgraced  by  him,  either  in  your  hope  ; 
it  is  such  as  '  shall  not  make  you  ashamed/  Rom.  v.  5  :  false  wor 
shippers  may  be  ashamed,  as  Baal's  were,  of  their  trust  in  their  god, 

1  '  Omnia  dicta  tanti  existimantur,  quantus  est  ipse  qui  dixerit,  nee  tarn  dictionis  vim 
atque  virtutem  quam  dictatoris  cogitant  dignitatem.'— Salvia.  contra  A varit.,  lib.  i. 

2  Hist,  of  Council  of  Trent.     Edit.  Lond.  1629,  p.  55. 

3  '  Compertum  est  damnata  ut  hseretica  in  libris  Lutheri,  quae  in  Bernardi,  Augustin- 
ique  libris  ut  orthodoxa  immo  et  pia  leguntur.' — Erasm.  in  Epist.  ad  Card.  Mogunt. 

184:  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  1. 

1  Kings  xviii ;  or  of  your  enjoyments  :  you  are  (  made  comely  in  his 
comeliness/  Ezek.  xvi.  1 4  ;  and  the  church  is  called  '  the  fairest  among 
women/  Cant.  v.  9  ;  or  of  your  service :  your  work  is  an  ornament  to 
you.  God  himself  is  '  glorious  in  holiness/  Exod.  xv.  11.  But  for  the 
future  you  will  always  find  him  a  Lord  of  glory ;  sometimes  in  this 
world,  after  you  have  been  a  long  time  beclouded  under  disgrace,  re 
proach,  and  suffering.  When  hair  is  shaven,  it  cometh  the  thicker, 
and  with  a  new  increase ;  so,  when  the  razor  of  censure  hath  made 
your  heads  bare,  and  brought  on  the  baldness  of  reproach,  be  not  dis 
couraged  :  God  hath  a  time  to  '  bring  forth  your  righteousness  as  the 
noon-day/  Ps.  xxxvii.  6,  by  an  apparent  conviction  to  dazzle  arid  dis 
courage  your  adversaries.  The  world  was  well  changed  when  Con- 
stantine  kissed  the  hollow  of  Paphnutius'  eye,  that  was  erewhile  put 
out  for  Christ.  Scorn  is  but  a  little  cloud  that  is  soon  blown  over. 
But  if  Christ  do  not  cause  your  enemies  to  bow  to  you,  yet  he  will  give 
you  honour  among  his  people  ;  for  he  hath  promised  to  honour  those 
that  honour  him,  1  Sam.  ii.  30  ;  and  he  is  able  to  do  it,  for  the  hearts 
of  all  men  are  in  his  hands,  and  he  can  dispose  of  their  respects  at 
pleasure.  That  sentence  of  Solomon  intimateth  that  Gcd  is  resolved 
upon  it,  '  A  man  shall  be  commended  according  to  his  wisdom/  Prov. 
xii.  8.  But,  however,  suppose  all  this  were  not,  in  the  next  world  you 
shall  be  sure  to  find  Christ  a  Lord  of  glory,  when  he  cometh  to  put  the 
same  glory  upon  the  saints  which  the  Father  hath  put  upon  himself, 
John  xvii.  22,  24.  '  In  that  day/  as  the  apostle  saith,  '  he  will  be 
glorified  in  his  saints,  and  admired  in  all  them  that  believe/  2  Thes. 
i.  10.  It  is  a  notable  expression  ;  not  only  admired  in  himself,  but  in 
his  saints ;  as  if  he  accounted  the  social  glory  which  resulteth  to  his 
person  from  the  glory  of  his  children  a  greater  honour  to  him  than  his 
own  personal  glory.  Well,  then,  look  to  your  thoughts  of  Christ. 
How  do  you  consider  him  ?  as  a  Lord  of  glory  ?  The  apostle  saith, 
'  To  them  that  believe,  Christ  is  precious/  1  Peter  ii.  7,  in  the  ori 
ginal,  Ti/ir^,  an  honour.  They  account  no  honour  like  the  honour  of 
having  relation  to  Christ.  You  will  know  this  disposition  by  two 
notes  : — (1.)  All  other  excellencies  will  be  as  nothing.  Birth,  '  an 
Hebrew  of  the  Hebrews  ; '  dignity,  '  a  Pharisee  ; '  moral  accomplish 
ments,  '  touching  the  law,  blameless  ; '  beauty  and  esteem  in  the  world, 
'  if  any  man  might  have  confidence  in  the  flesh,  I  much  more  ; '  yet 
*  I  count  all  things  but  dung  and  loss,  for  the  excellency  of  the  know 
ledge  of  Christ/  Phil.  iii.  8.  (2.)  All  other  abasures  will  be  nothing: 
Taireivos,  the  '  brother  of  base  degree '  may  count  his  baseness  for  Christ 
a  preferment;  let  him  '  rejoice  in  that  he  is  exalted/  James  i.  9.  So 
of  Moses  it  is  said,  he  'esteemed  the  reproaches  of  Christ  better 
treasures  than  the  riches  of  Egypt/  Heb.  xi.  26.  Mark,  he  did  not 
only  endure  the  reproaches  of  Christ,  but  counted  them  treasures,  to  be 
reckoned  among  his  honours  and  things  of  value.  So  Thuanus  re- 
porteth  of  Ludovicus  Marsacus,  a  knight  of  France,  when  he  was  led, 
with  other  martyrs  that  were  bound  with  cords,  to  execution,  and  he 
for  his  dignity  was  not  bound,  he  cried,  '  Give  me  my  chains  too ;  let 
me  be  a  knight  of  the  same  order/ l  Certainly  it  is  an  honour  to  be 

1  'Cur  non  et  me  quoque  torque  donas,  et  insisrnis  Luius  ordinis  militem   creas?' 
—Thuan.  Hist. 

JAB.  II.  2-4.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  185 

vile  for  God,  2  Sam.  vi.  22.  To  a  gracious  spirit,  nothing  is  base  but 
sin  and  tergiversation  ;  disgrace  itself  is  honourable,  when  it  is  endured 
for  the  Lord  of  glory. 

Obs.  3.  Those  that  count  Christ  glorious  will  account  Christianity 
and  faith  glorious.  The  apostle  maketh  it  an  argument  here,  '  The 
faith  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  the  Lord  of  glory.'  He  that  prizeth 
the  person  of  Christ  prizeth  all  his  relatives.  As  among  men, 
when  we  love  a  man,  we  love  his  picture,  and  whatsoever  hath  re 
lation  to  him.  Grace  is  but  a  ray,  a  derived  excellency  from  Christ. 
A  Christian  is  much  known  by  his  esteem.  What,  then,  do  you  ac 
count  most  excellent  in  yourselves  or  others  ?  (1.)  In  yourselves. 
What  is  your  greatest  honour  and  treasure  ?  What  would  you  desire 
for  yourselves  or  others  ?  What  would  you  part  with  first  ?  Theodo- 
sius  valued  his  Christianity  above  his  empire.  Luther  said,  he  had 
rather  be  Christian/us  rusticus  than  ethnicus  Alexander — a  Christian 
clown  than  a  Pagan  emperor.  (2.)  In  others.  Who  are  most  precioua 
with  you  ?  those  in  whom  you  see  most  of  the  image  of  Christ  ?  We 
use  to  honour  the  servants  of  glorious  kings  :  Prov.  xii.  26,  '  The 
righteous  is  more  excellent  than  his  neighbour.'  Who  is  the  best 
neighbour  to  you  ?  those  that  fear  God  ?  and  do  you  like  them  best, 
when  their  conferences  are  most  religious  ?  You  shall  see  this  inde 
finite  proverb  is  restrained  by  another,  Prov.  xix.  1,  where  Solomon 
intimateth  that  the  righteous  poor  man  is  better  than  his  rich  neigh 
bour.  There,  indeed,  is  the  trial.  Communion  with  holy  and  graci 
ous  spirits  is  far  better  than  the  countenance  and  respects  of  a  great 
man  to  you.  Oh !  do  not  despise  those  jewels  of  Christ  that  lie  in  the 
dirt  and  dunghill.  David  could  see  silver  wings  in  those  doves  that 
had  lain  among  the  pots. 

Ver.  2-4.  For  if  there  come  into  your  assembly  a  man  ivith  a  gold 
ring,  in  goodly  apparel,  and  there  come  in  also  a  poor  man  in  vile 
raiment ;  and  you  have  respect  to  him  that  iveareth  the  gay  clothing, 
and  say  to  him,  Sit  thou  here  in  a  good  place  ;  and  say  to  the  poor, 
Stand  thou  there,  or  sit  under  my  footstool  ;  are  ye  not  then  partial 
in  yourselves,  and  become  judges  of  evil  thoughts? 

I  have  put  all  these  verses  together,  because  they  make  but  one 
entire  sentence.  The  apostle  proveth  how  guilty  they  were  of  this 
evil  from  whence  he  dissuadeth  them,  by  a  usual  practice  of  theirs  in 
their  ecclesiastical  conventions. 

If  there  come  into  your  assembly. — The  word  in  the  original  is, 
et?  awaytoyrjv, '  into  your  synagogue/  by  which  some  understand  their 
Christian  assembly  for  worship :  but  that  is  not  so  probable,  because 
the  Christian  assembly  is  nowhere,  that  I  can  remember,  expressed 
by  avi>a<ya)jrj,  synagogue,  but  by  eK/c\r](Tia,  church  ;  and  in  the  church- 
meeting  there  may  be,  without  sin,  several  seats  and  places  appointed 
for  men  of  several  ranks  and  dignities  in  the  world ;  and  it  is  a  mis 
take  to  apply  the  censure  of  the  apostle  to  such  a  practice.  Others 
apply  it  to  any  common  convention  and  meeting  for  the  deciding  of 
controversies,  establishing  of  public  order,  and  disposing  of  the  offices 
of  the  church ;  and  by  synagogue  they  understand  the  court  where 
they  judged  all  causes  belonging  to  themselves.1  Austin  seemeth  to 

1 '  Per  convention  significantur  ccetus  seu  cougregationes  public*  profanee,  in  qnibus 

186  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  2-4. 

incline  to  this  sense  for  one  part  of  it,  namely,  for  a  meeting  to  dis 
pose  of  all  offices  that  belonged  to  the  church,  which  were  not  to  be 
intrusted  to  men  according  to  their  outward  quality,  but  inward 
accomplishments  ; l  there  being  the  same  abuse  in  fashion  in  the  primi 
tive  times  which,  to  our  grief,  hath  been  found  among  us,  that  men 
were  chosen  and  called  to  office  out  of  a  respect  to  their  worldly  lustre 
rather  than  their  spiritual  endowments,  and  the  gold  ring  was  pre 
ferred  before  the  rich  faith,  a  practice  wholly  inconsonant  with 
Christian  religion  and  with  the  dispensation  of  those  times ;  God 
himself  having  immediately  called  fishermen,  and  persons  otherwise 
despicable,  certainly  of  little  note  and  remark  in  the  world,  to  the 
highest  offices  and  employments  in  the  church.  If  we  take  the  words 
in  this  restrained  sense,  for  a  court  or  meeting  to  dispose  of  ecclesiastical 
offices  and  functions,  the  context  may  be  accommodated  with  a  very 
proper  sense,  for,  according  to  their  offices,  so  had  they  places  in  all 
church-meetings ;  and  therefore  the  apostle  Paul  useth  that  phrase, 
'  He  that  occupieth  the  room  of  the  unlearned/  1  Cor.  xiv.  16  ;  or,  as 
it  is  in  the  original,  TOTTOV  ISiaiTov,  the  place  of  the  private  person. 
The  elders  they  sat  by  themselves,2  then  others  that  were  more  learned, 
then  the  ignorants ;  the  church  herein  following  the  custom  of  the 
synagogue,  which  (as  the  author  of  the  Comment  upon  the  Epistles, 
that  goeth  under  the  name  of  Ambrose,  observeth)  was  wont  to  place 
the  elders  in  chairs,  the  next  in  rank  on  benches,  the  novices  at  their 
feet  on  mats ;  3  and  thence  came  the  phrase  of  *  sitting  at  the  feet '  of 
any  one  for  a  disciple,  as  it  is  said  Paul  was  '  brought  up  at  the  feet 
of  Gamaliel/  And  for  the  women,  Grotius  telleth  us,  that  the  first 
place  was  given  to  the  widows  of  one  man,  then  to  the  virgins,  then 
to  the  matrons.4  Now,  because  they  assigned  these  places  preposter 
ously,  out  of  a  regard  of  wealth  rather  than  grace,  and  said  to  the 
rich,  '  Sit  thou  here,  /caXco?,  honourably/  and  to  the  poor,  however 
qualified,  '  Stand  thou  there,  or  sit  at  my  feet/  the  place  of  learners 
and  idiots,  the  apostle  doth  with  such  severity  tax  the  abuse,  to  wit, 
their  carnal  partiality  in  distributing  the  honours  of  the  church. 
Thus  you  see  the  context  will  go  on  smoothly.  But  I  must  not  limit 
the  text  to  this  one  use  of  the  court  or  synagogue ;  and  therefore,  if 
we  take  in  the  other  uses  of  deciding  all  causes  and  differences  be 
tween  the  members  of  the  Church,  &c.,  every  passage  in  the  context 
will  have  its  full  light  and  explication ;  for  the  apostle  speaketh  of 
judging,  and  of  such  respect  of  persons  as  is  condemned  by  the  law, 
ver.  9,  which  is  an  accepting  of  persons  in  judgment,  Lev.  xix.  5. 
And  therefore  I  understand  this  synagogue  of  an  assembly  met  to  do 
justice.  In  which  thought  I  am  confirmed  by  the  judgment  and 

conveniebant  Christian!  ut  justis  legibus  et  arbitris  domesticas  vel  politicas  communesque 
lites  dirimerent.' — Hevar.  in  loc. 

1 '  Nee  sane,  quantum  arbitror,  putandum  est  leve  ease  peccatum  in  personarum  accep- 
tione  habere  fidem  Domini  nostri  Jesu  Christi,  si  illam  distantiam  sedendi  ac  standi  ad 
honores  ecclesiasticos  referamus ;  quis  enim  ferat  eligi  divitem  ad  sedem  honoris  ecclesisB, 
contempto  paupere  instructiore  atque  sanctiore.' — Aug.  Epist.  29. 

2  '  President  probati  quique  seniores,  honoremistum  non  pretio  sed  testimonio  adepti.' 
— Tertul.  in  Apol. 

3  '  Synagogse  traditio  est  ut  sedentes  disputent,  seniores  dignitate  in  cathedris,  sequentes 
in  subselliis,  novissimi  in  pavimento  super  mattas.' — Ambros.  in  primam  ad  Cor. 

4  '  Primus  locus  viduis  univiris,  proximus  virginibus,  deinde  matronis.' — Grot,  in  loc. 

JAS.  II.  2-4.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  •    187 

reasons  of  a  late  learned  writer,1  who  proveth  that  it  was  the  fashion 
of  the  Jews  to  keep  court  in  their  synagogues ;  and  therefore  do  we 
so  often  read  those  phrases.  Mat.  x.  17,  '  They  shall  scourge  you  in 
their  synagogues ;'  Acts  xxii.  19,  '  Beaten  in  every  synagogue  ;'  Acts 
xxvi.  11,  *  I  punished  them  in  every  synagogue,'  because,  as  he  saith, 
where  sentence  was  given,  there  justice  was  executed ;  and  it  is  pro 
bable  that,  being  converted  to  Christianity,  they  still  held  the  same 
course.  And  it  is  very  notable,  which  he  quoteth  out  of  Maimonides' 
Sanhedrim,  cap.  21,  '  That  it  is  expressly  provided  by  the  Jews' 
constitutions,  that  when  a  poor  man  and  a  rich  plead  together,  the 
rich  shall  not  be  bidden  to  sit  down,  and  the  poor  stand,  or  sit  in  a 
worse  place,  but  both  sit,  or  both  stand : '  which  is  a  circumstance 
that  hath  a  clear  respect  to  the  phrases  used  by  the  apostle  here ;  and 
the  rather  to  be  noted,  because  our  apostle  writeth  to  '  the  twelve 
tribes/  Hebrews  by  nation,  with  whom  these  customs  were  familiar 
and  of  known  use.  So  that  out  of  all  we  may  collect  that  the  syna 
gogue  here  spoken  of  is  not  the  church  assembly,  but  the  ecclesiastical 
court  or  convention  for  the  decision  of  strifes,  wherein  they  were  not 
to  favour  the  cause  of  the  rich  against  the  poor ;  which  is  an  expli 
cation  that  cleareth  the  whole  context,  and  preventeth  the  incon 
veniences  of  the  received  exposition,  which  so  far  pleadeth  the  cause 
of  the  poor  as  to  deny  civility  and  due  respect  to  the  rich  and 
honourable  in  Christian  assemblies. 

A  man  with  a  gold  ring,  xpvaoSaKTv^Los,  l  a  gold-fingered  man,' 
that  is  the  force  of  the  original  word.  The  gold  ring  was  a  badge  of 
honour  and  nobility  ;  therefore  Judah  had  his  signet,  Gen.  xxxviii. 
18-25  ;  and  Pharaoh,  as  a  token  that  Joseph  was  promoted  to  honour, 
'  took  off  his  ring  from  his  hand  and  put  it  upon  Joseph's,  and  arrayed 
him  in  vestures  of  fine  linen/  Gen.  xlii.  So  Ahasuerus  dealt  with 
Mordecai,  Esther  viii.  8. 

In  goodly  apparel — This  also  was  a  note  of  dignity :  Gen. 
xxvii.  15,  '  Rebecca  took  the  goodly  garment  of  her  son  Esau  ; '  by 
which  some  understand  2  the  gorgeous  priestly  ornaments  which  be 
longed  to  him  as  having  the  birthright.  So  when  the  prodigal 
returned,  the  father,  to  do  him  honour,  calleth  for  the  best  robe  and 
a  ring ;  some  marks  and  ornaments  of  honour  which  were  put  on 
upon  solemn  days.  But  the  luxury  of  after-times  made  the  use  more 
common.  It  is  said  of  the  rich  man  in  the  Gospel,  Luke  xvi.  19, 
that  he  was  '  clothed  in  purple  and  fine  linen,  and  fared  deliciously 
every  day.' 

A  poor  man  in  vile  raiment. — In  the  original,  ej-dfjTi  pvTrapa,  'filthy, 
sordid  raiment ; '  it  is  the  same  word  which  the  Septuagint  use  in 
Zech.  iii.  3,  4,  where  mention  is  made  of  the  high  priest's  '  filthy 
garments/  which  was  a  figure  of  the  calamitous  state  of  the  church  ; 
where  the  Septuagint  have  Ij^dria  pvirapd. 

And  you  have  respect  to  him  that  iveareth  the  gay  clothing.-— 
'E7ri(3\e7r€iv  is  to  gaze  and  observe  with  some  admiration  and  special 

1  Herbert  Thorndike,  in  his  book  of  the  Right  of  the  Church  in  a  Christian  State, 
printed  at  London,  1649.     See  pp.  38,  39. 

2  Lightfoot  in  Gen. 

188  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  2-4. 

Sit  thou  here  in  a  good  place,  /eaXw?,  '  in  an  honourable  or  worthy 
place  ;  '  and  so  it  noteth,  either  the  rash  disposal  of  the  honours  of 
the  church  into  their  hands,  or  the  favouring  of  them  in  their  cause, 
as  before. 

Stand  thou  there,  or  sit  under  my  footstool.  —  Expressions  of  con 
tempt  and  disrespect.  Standing  or  sitting  at  the  feet  was  the 
posture  of  the  younger  disciples.  Sometimes  standing  is  put  for 
those  that  stood  upon  their  defence  ;  as  Ps.  cxxx.  3,  '  If  thou  shouldst 
mark  what  is  done,  who  can  stand  ?  '  that  is,  in  curia,  in  court,  as 
those  that  make  a  bold  defence.  So  Eph.  vi.  13,  '  Take  the  armour 
of  God,  that  you  may  be  able  to  withstand  in  the  evil  day,  and  when 
you  have  done  all,  to  stand  ;  '  that  is,  before  God's  tribunal  :  it  is  an 
allusion  to  the  posture  of  men  in  courts.  This  different  respect 
of  poor  and  rich  bringeth  to  my  mind  a  passage  of  Bernard,  who, 
when  he  chanced  to  espy  a  poor  man  meanly  apparelled,  he  would  say 
to  himself,  Truly,  Bernard,  this  man  with  more  patience  beareth  his 
cross  than  thou  :  but  if  he  saw  a  rich  man  delicately  clothed,  then  he 
would  say,  It  may  be  that  this  man,  under  his  delicate  clothing,  hath 
a  better  soul  than  thou  hast  under  thy  religious  habit.  An  excellent 
charity,  and  a  far  better  practice  than  theirs  in  the  text,  who  said  to 
him  in  the  goodly  raiment,  '  sit/  to  the  poor,  '  stand.'  To  the  rich 
they  assigned  '  a  good  place/  but  to  the  poor  the  room  '  under  the 

Are  ye  not  partial  in  yourselves?  —  This  clause  is  severally  ren 
dered,  because  of  the  different  significations  of  the  word  SiaKpiOfjre. 
Some  turn  it  without  an  interrogation,  thus,  '  Ye  were  not  judged  in 
yourselves,  but,'  &c.  ;  as  if  the  sense  were  —  Though  they  were  not 
judged  themselves,  yet  they  judged  others  by  these  inevident  signs. 
But  it  is  better  with  an  interrogation  ;  and  yet  then  there  are  different 
readings.  Some  thus,  '  Are  ye  not  condemned  in  yourselves  ?  '  that 
is,  do  not  your  own  consciences  fall  upon  you  ?  Certainly  the 
apostle  applieth  the  fact  to  their  consciences  by  this  vehement  and 
rousing  question  ;  but  I  think  SiatcpidriTe  must  not  be  here  rendered 
condemned.  Others  thus,  '  Have  ye  not  doubted  or  questioned  the 
matter  in  yourselves  ?  '  for  that  is  another  sense  of  the  word  in  the 
text.  But  here  it  seemeth  most  harsh  and  incongruous.  Another 
sense  of  the  word  is,  to  make  a  difference  ;  so  it  is  often  taken  : 
Sicucpivo^evoi,  '  making  a  difference/  Jude  22  ;  ovSev  Sietcplve,  '  He  put 
no  difference/  Acts  xv.  9  ;  and  so  it  may  be  fitly  rendered  here, 
'  Have  ye  not  made  a  difference  ?  '  that  is,  an  unjust  difference,  out  of 
carnal  affection,  rather  than  any  true  judgment.  And  therefore,  for 
more  perspicuity,  we  explain,  rather  than  interpret,  when  we  render, 
Are  ye  not  partial  ?  It  is  an  appeal  to  their  consciences  in  making 
such  a  difference  :  Are  ye  not  counterpoised  with  perverse  respects  ? 
Many  times  we  may  know  the  quality  of  an  action  by  the  verdict  of 
conscience.  Is  not  this  partiality  ?  Doth  not  conscience  tell  you  it  is 
making  a  difference  which  God  never  made  ?  Sins  directly  dispro 
portionate  to  our  profession  are  against  conscience,  and  in  such 
practices  the  heart  is  divided.  There  are  some  disallowing  thoughts 
which  men  strive  to  smother. 

And  become  judges  of  evil  thoughts.  —  From  the  running  of  the 


words  in  our  translation,  I  should  have  guessed  the  sense  to  be  this, 
That  by  these  outward  appearances  of  meanness  and  greatness  in  the 
world,  they  judged  of  men's  hearts  ;  which  is  here  expressed  by  what 
is  most  transient  and  inward  in  the  heart,  the  thoughts.  But  this 
Kpiral  ^idko^io-^wv  irov^pwv,  is  to  be  taken  in  quite  another  sense. l 
The  meaning  is,  you  altogether  judge  perversely,  according  to  the  rule 
of  your  own  corrupt  thoughts  and  intentions.  Their  esteem  and  their 
ends  were  not  right,  but  perverted  by  carnal  affections.  They  esteemed 
outward  pomp  above  spiritual  graces,  which  was  contrary  to  reason 
and  religion  ;  and  they  proposed  to  themselves  other  ends  than  men 
should  do  in  acts  of  choice  and  judicature.  They  had  men's  persons 
in  admiration,  because  of  advantage ;  and  did  not  weigh  so  much  the 
merits  of  the  cause,  as  the  condition  of  the  persons  contending. 

From  these  verses,  besides  the  things  touched  in  the  explication,  you 
may  observe : — 

Obs.  1.  That  men  are  marvellous  apt  to  honour  worldly  greatness. 
To  a  carnal  eye  nothing  else  is  glorious.  A  corrupt  judgment  tainteth 
the  practice.  A  child  of  God  may  be  guilty  of  much  worldliness,  but 
he  hath  not  a  worldly  judgment.  David's  heart  went  astray  ;  but  his 
judgment  being  right,  that  brought  him  about  again,  Ps.  Ixxiii. :  com 
pare  the  whole  psalm  with  the  last  verse, '  It  is  good  for  me  to  draw 
nigh  to  God/  Moses'  uprightness  and  love  to  the  people  of  God 
was  from  his  esteem  :  Heb.  xi.  26,  '  Esteeming  the  reproach  of  Christ/ 
&c.  When  men  have  a  right  esteem,  that  will  make  them  prize 
religion,  though  shrouded  under  poor  sorry  weeds ;  but  when  their 
judgments  and  conceits  are  prepossessed  and  occupied  with  carnal 
principles,  nothing  seemeth  lovely  but  greatness,  and  exalted  wicked 
ness  hath  more  of  their  respect  than  oppressed  grace.  But  you  will 
say — May  we  not  show  honour  and  respect  to  men  great  in  the  world 
if  they  are  wicked  ? 

I  answer — There  is  a  respect  due  to  the  rich,  though  wicked  ;  but 
if  it  be  accompanied  with  a  contempt  of  the  mean  servants  of  God,  it 
is  such  a  partiality  as  doth  not  become  grace.  More  particularly,  that 
you  may  not  mistake  in  your  respects  to  wicked  men,  take  a  direction 
or  two  : — (1.)  Great  men  in  the  world  must  have  respect  due  to  their 
places,  but  the  godly  must  have  your  converse  and  familiarity :  '  My 
delight  is  in  the  excellent  of  the  earth/  Ps.  xvi.  3.  A  Christian  can 
not  delight  in  the  converse  of  a  wicked  man  so  as  he  can  in  the  children 
of  God  ;  besides  that  the  object  in  the  eye  of  grace  hath  more  loveli 
ness,  there  is  the  advantage  of  sweet  counsels  and  spiritual  commun 
ion  :  '  Comforted  by  the  mutual  faith  of  you  and  me/  Kom.  i.  12.  (2.) 
You  must  be  sure  not  to  be  ashamed  of  the  meanest  Christians,  to 
vouchsafe  all  due  respects  to  them.  Onesimus  was  a  mean  servant, 
yet,  when  converted,  Paul  counted  him  '  above  a  servant,  as  a  brother/ 
Philem.  16.  So  the  messengers  of  the  churches  are  called  '  the  glory 
of  Christ,'  2  Cor.  viii.  23,  such  as  Christ  will  boast  of.  Christ  is 
ashamed  of  none  but  those  that  are  ashamed  of  him  :  it  is  glory  enough 
in  the  eye  of  Christ  and  grace  that  they  are  holy.  (3.)  You  must 
own  them  for  brethren  in  their  greatest  abasures  and  afflictions,  as 
Moses  did  the  people  of  God,  Heb.  xi.  25.  (4.)  Be  sure  to  drive  on 

1  '  Genetivus  Lie  non  est  objecti,  sed  attributi.' — Grot. 

190  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  2-4. 

no  self-design  in  your  respects ;  be  not  swayed  by  a  corrupt  aim  at 
advantage :  this  will  make  us  take  Egyptians  for  Israelites,  and  per 
versely  carry  out  our  esteem.  It  chiefly  concerneth  ministers  to  mind 
this,  that  they  may  not  gild  a  potsherd,  and  comply  with  wicked 
men  for  their  own  gain  and  advantage :  it  is  a  description  of  false 
teachers,  2  Peter  ii.  3,  '  Through  covetousness  they  shall,  with  feigned 
words,  make  merchandise  of  you  : '  they  apply  themselves  to  those 
among  whom  they  may  drive  on  the  trade  best ;  not  to  the  saints,  but 
to  the  rich,  and  soothe  up  them  ;  where  there  is  most  gain,  not  where 
most  grace  :  Hosea  vii.  3,  '  They  made  the  rulers  glad  with  their  lies.' 
Obs.  2.  From  that  are  ye  not  partial  f  He  urgeth  them  with  a 
question.  To  bring  us  to  a  sense  of  things,  it  is  good  to  put  questions 
to  our  consciences,  because  then  we  do  directly  return  upon  our  own 
souls.  Soliloquies  and  discourses  with  yourselves  are  of  excellent  ad 
vantage  :  Ps.  iv.  4,  '  Commune  with  your  own  hearts,  and  be  still/ 
It  is  a  hard  matter  to  bring  a  man  and  himself  together,  to  get  him 
to  speak  a  word  to  himself.  There  are  many  that  live  in  the  world 
for  a  long  time — some  forty  or  fifty  years — and  all  this  while  they 
cannot  be  brought  to  converse  with  their  own  hearts.  This  question 
ing  of  conscience  will  be  of  use  to  you  in  humiliation,  faith,  and 
obedience.  (1.)  In  your  humbling  work.  There  are  several  questions 
proper  to  that  business,  as  in  the  examination  of  your  estate,  when 
you  bring  your  ways  and  the  commandment  together,  which  is  the 
first  rise  of  humiliation :  you  will  find  the  soul  most  awakened  by 
asking  of  questions.  Oh!  'what  have  I  done?'  Jer.  viii.  6.  Do 
I  walk  according  to  the  tenor  of  this  holy  law  ?  Can  I  say,  '  My 
heart  is  clean?'  Prov.  xx.  9.  Then  there  is  a  second  question:  When 
guilt  is  found  out  concerning  the  rigour  of  the  law,  and  the  sureness 
of  wrath,  every  violation  is  death :  will  God  be  partial  for  thy  sake  ? 
*  His  jealousy  shall  smoke  against  that  man  that  saith,  I  shall  have 
peace,  though  I  walk  in  the  way  of  mine  own  heart,'  Deut.  xxix.  19. 
Then  there  are  other  questions  about  the  dreadfulness  of  wrath  :  Ezek. 
xxii.  14,  *  Can  my  heart  endure,  and  my  hands  be  made  strong,  in  the 
days  that  God  shall  deal  with  me  ?'  Shall  I  be  able  to  bear  up  under 
torments  without  measure  and  without  end  ?  Can  I  dwell  with  those 
devouring  burnings  ?  Then  there  is  a  fourth  question,  after  a  way  of 
escape:  'What  shall  I  do  to  inherit  eternal  life?'  Acts  xvi.  30; 
or,  as  it  is  in  the  prophet,  'Wherewith  shall  I  come  before  God?' 
Micah  vi.  8.  With  what  recompense  shall  I  appease  his  angry  jus 
tice  ?  Thus  you  see  the  whole  business  of  humiliation  is  carried  on 
in  these  interrogative  forms.  (2.)  For  the  work  of  faith,  these  ques 
tions  are  serviceable,  partly  to  quicken  the  soul  to  the  consideration 
of  the  offer  of  God ;  as  when  the  apostle  had  disputed  of  free  justifi 
cation,  he  enf  orceth  all  by  a  question,  '  What  shall  we  then  say  to  these 
things  ?'  Kom.  viii.  31 .  Soul,  what  canst  thou  object  and  urge  against 
so  rich  mercies  ?  Paul,  all  the  while  before,  had  been  but  drawing 
the  bow,^  now  he  letteth  fly  the  arrow.  '  What  shall  we  say  ?'  Partly 
because  it  maketh  us  more  sensible  of  the  danger  of  not  believing  :  Heb. 
ii.  3,  *  How  shall  we  escape  if  we  neglect  so  great  salvation  ? '  If  I 
neglect  God's  second  offer,  what  will  become  of  me  ?  Thus  it  is  ;an 
help  to  the  work  of  faith.  (3.)  In  the  work  of  obedience  these  ques- 

JAS.  II.  2-4.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  191 

tions  are  serviceable  ;  as  when  a  temptation  is  like  to  carry  it  in  the 
soul,  it  is  good  to  come  in  with  a  smart  question :  Gen.  xxxix.  9,  '  How 
can  I  do  this  wickedness,  and  sin  against  God  ? '  So  if  the  heart  drive 
on  heavily  in  duties  of  worship,  '  Offer  it  now  to  the  governor  ;  would 
he  accept  it  at  my  hands  ? '  Mai.  i.  8.  Would  I  do  thus  to  an  earthly 
prince  in  an  earthly  matter  ?  Thus  you  see  questions  are  of  singular 
use  in  every  part  of  the  holy  life.  Be  more  frequent  in  them  ;  and  in 
every  matter  take  occasion  to  discourse  with  your  own  souls. 

Obs.  3.  From  that  judges  of  evil  thoughts.  Evils  begin  first  in  the 
thoughts:  Mat.  xv.  19,  'Out  of  the  heart  proceed  evil  thoughts;' 
that  is  in  the  front  of  that  black  roll.  Affections  pervert  the  thoughts, 
and  thoughts  stain  the  judgment.  Therefore,  when  God  would 
express  the  wickedness  of  the  old  world,  he  saith,  '  The  imagination 
of  their  thoughts  were  evil,'  Gen.  vi.  5.  The  reason  of  atheism  is 
blasphemy  in  the  thoughts  :  Ps.  x.  4,  '  All  their  thoughts  are  that 
there  is  no  God.'  The  reason  of  worldliness  is  some  wretched 
thought  that  is  hidden  in  the  bosom :  Ps.  xlix.  11,  '  Their  inward 
thought  is  that  their  houses  shall  continue  for  ever/  You  see,  then, 
there  is  reason  why  you  should  go  to  God  to  cleanse  your  spirits 
from  evil  thoughts,  why  you  should  be  humbled  under  them,  why 
you  should  watch  against  them :  Isa.  Iv.  7,  '  Let  the  wicked  man 
forsake  his  way,  and  the  unrighteous  man  his  thoughts,  and  return 
unto  the  Lord/  Mark,  not  only  his  way,  but  his  thoughts.  Trace 
every  corrupt  desire,  every  inordinate  practice,  till  you  come  up  to 
some  inward  and  hidden  thought.  There  are  implicit  thoughts,  and 
thoughts  explicit :  explicit  are  those  that  are  impressed  upon  the 
conscience,  and  are  more  sensible ;  implicit  are  those  which  the  scrip 
ture  calleth  '  hidden  thoughts,'  and  the  '  sayings  of  the  heart/ 
Though  the  desires,  purposes,  actions,  are  according  to  them,  yet  we 
do  not  so  sensibly  discern  them ;  for  they  are  so  odious,  that  they 
come  least  in  sight.  Many  such  there  are ;  as  this  was  the  hidden 
thought  implied  in  the  text,  that  wealth  is  to  be  preferred  before 
grace  ;  and  that  made  them  judge  so  perversely.  It  is  good  therefore 
to  wait  upon  the  word,  which  '  discovereth  the  thoughts  and  intents 
of  the  heart/  Heb.  iv.  12,  that  upon  every  experience  you  may  refer 
things  to  their  proper  head  and  cause  :  sure  there  hath  been  a  vile 
thought  in  me,  that  there  is  no  God ;  that  the  world  is  for  ever  ;  that 
riches  are  better  than  grace ;  that  the  pleasures  of  sin  are  better  than 
the  hopes  of  life,  &c.  It  is  good  to  interpret  every  action,  and  to 
observe  the  language  that  is  couched  in  it ;  your  lives  do  but  speak 
out  these  thoughts. 

Ols.  4.  That  this  is  an  evil  thought,  that  men  are  to  be  valued  by 
their  outward  excellency.  It  is  against  the  dispensation  of  God,  who 
putteth  the  greatest  glory  upon  those  that  are  of  least  account  and 
esteem  in  the  world.  It  is  against  the  nature  of  grace,  whose  glory 
is  not  sensible,  obvious  to  the  senses,  but  inward  and  hidden  :^  Ps. 
xlv.  13,  '  The  king's  daughter  is  all  glorious  within/  A  Christian's 
inside  is  best ;  all  the  world's  glory  is  in  show,  fancy,  and  appearance : 
Agrippa  and  Bernice  'came  with  great  pomp,'  Acts  xxv.  23,  pera 
7roA7v%  (fxivTaa-ias,  with  much  show  and  fancy.  Painted  things  have 
a  greater  show  with  them  than  real.  Nazianzen  saith,  the  world  is 


Helena  without,  and  Hecuba  within :  there  is  nothing  answerable  to 
the  appearance ;  but  now  grace  is  under  a  veil,  '  it  doth  not  appear 
what  we  shall  be,'  1  John  iii.  2.  Thus  Cant.  i.  6,  the  church  is  said 
to  be  '  black,  but  comely  ;'  full  of  spiritual  beauty,  though  outwardly 
wretched,  and  deformed"  with  afflictions  ;  which  is  there  expressed  by 
two  similitudes,  like  '  the  tents  of  Kedar,  and  the  curtains  of  Solomon/ 
The  tents  of  Kedar :  the  Arabians  lived  in  tents,  which  were  but 
homely  and  slender  in  comparison  of  city  buildings,  obscure  huts, 
sullied  and  blacked  with  the  weather,  but  rich  within,  and  full  of 
costly  utensils ;  therefore  we  hear  of  '  the  glory  of  Kedar/  Isa. 
xxi.  16.  And  Solomon's  curtains  may  possibly  signify  the  same  thing. 
Josephus  saith,  Solomon  had  Babylonian  curtains,  of  a  baser  stuff 
and  work,  to  hide  the  curious  imagery  that  was  carved  on  the  marble 
walls.  The  greatest  glory  is  within  the  veil :  '  The  hidden  man  of 
the  heart'  is  an  ornament  '  of  great  price,'  1  Peter  iii.  4.  And  as  it  is 
against  the  nature  of  grace,  so  it  is  against  all  right  reason  :  we  do 
not  use  to  judge  so  in  other  cases :  we  do  not  prize  a  horse  for  the  gaudry 
of  his  saddle  and  trappings,  but  for  his  strength  and  swiftness.  That 
painter  was  laughed  at  who,  because  he  could  not  draw  Helena  fair, 
drew  her  rich.  We  do  not  therefore  judge  it  a  good  sword  because 
it  hath  a  golden  belt.  Well,  then,  if  it  be  against  providence,  and 
grace,  and  reason,  go  by  a  wiser  rule  in  valuing  things  and  persons 
than  outward  excellency :  do  not  think  that  faith  best  which  the  ruler 
professeth,  John  vii.  48,  nor  those  persons  best  that  glitter  most  with 
worldly  lustre.  Christ  cometh  often  in  a  disguise  to  us,  as  well  as  the 
Jews — to  us  in  his  poor  members. 

Ver.  5.  Hearken,  my  beloved  brethren,  Hath  not  God  chosen  the  poor 
of  this  world  rich  in  faith,  and  heirs  of  the  kingdom  which  he  ha*h 
promised  to  them  that  love  him  ? 

In  this  verse  the  apostle  urgeth  another  argument  against  respect 
of  persons  :  you  will  despise  those  whom  God,  out  of  his  wise  ordina 
tion,  hath  called  to  the  greatest  honour.  He  instanceth  in  a  threefold 
dignity  which  the  Lord  putteth  upon  the  godly  poor :  they  are  elected 
of  God,  rich  in  faith,  and  heirs  of  the  kingdom. 

Hearken,  my  beloved  brethren. — He  exciteth  their  attention,  and  still 
giveth  them  the  loving  compellation  which  he  had  formerly  used.  In 
all  grave  and  weighty  matters,  it  is  usual  in  the  scripture  to  preface 
and  premise  some  craving  of  attention :  '  He  that  hath  an  ear  to 
hear  let  him  hear/  Mat.  xiii.  9  ;  so  James  in  the  council  of  Jerusalem  : 
Acts  xv.  13,  '  Men  and  brethren,  hearken  unto  me.'  Here  the^apostle 
useth  this  preface,  partly  to  stir  them  up  to  consider  the  dispensation 
proper  to  that  age.  So  1  Cor.  i.  26,  '  Behold  your  calling,  brethren, 
not  many  wise,  not  many  mighty/  &c.  ;  that  is,  seriously  consider  the 
matter  of  God's  calling  in  these  times.  Partly  because  he  is  about 
to  urge  a  warm  argument  against  the  perverseness  of  their  respects, 
and  when  the  matter  concerneth  our  case,  it  calleth  for  our  best 

Hath  not  God  chosen  ?  that  is,  by  the  special  designment  of  grace 
he  hath  singled  out  the  poor  to  be  heirs  of  life.  You  will  find  it  so 
always,  for  the  most  part,  but  in  those  times  especially.  Partly  to 
confute  the  pride  of  great  persons,  as  if  God  should  respect  them  for 

JAS.  II.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  193 

their  outward  dignity.  The  first  choice  that  God  made  in  the  world 
was  of  poor  men  ;  and  therefore  do  we  so  often  read  that  the  poor  re 
ceived  the  gospel ;  not  only  the  poor  in  spirit,  but  the  poor  in  purse. 
God  chose  fishermen  to  preach  the  gospel,  and  poor  persons  to  receive 
it :  few  were  won  that  were  of  any  rank  and  quality  in  the  world ; 
and  partly  that  we  might  not  think  that  wonderful  increase  and 
spreading  of  the  gospel  to  come  to  pass  by  the  advantage  of  human 
power,  fleshly  aids  and  props,  but  by  the  virtue  of  divine  grace. 

The  poor  of  the  world;  that  is,  in  regard  of  outward  enjoyments: 
1  Tim.  vi.  17,  there  he  speaketh  of  '  the  rich  of  this  world.'  There 
is  another  world  that  hath  its  riches,  but  they  that  have  estate  there 
are  usually  poor  and  despicable.  The  saints  are  described  to  be  those 
that  have  not  their  hopes  in  this  world,  1  Cor.  xv.  19,  or  poor  in 
this  world ;  that  is,  in  the  opinion  of  the  present  world  they  are  vile 
and  abject. 

Eicli  in  faith. — So  they  may  be  said  to  be  two  ways :  Either  in 
regard  of  high  measures  and  raised  degrees  of  faith ;  as  Abraham 
was  said  to  be  '  strong  in  faith/  Kom.  iv.  20,  or  that  woman,  Mat.  xv.  28, 

*  0  woman  !  great  is  thy  faith.'     So  when  the  apostle  presseth  them 
to  a  spiritual  abundance  in  gifts  and  graces,  he  saith,  Col.  iii.  1G, 

*  Let  the  word  of  God  dwell  in  you,  7rA,ofo-/&)?,  richly.'   Or  rich,  in  op 
position  to  worldly  poverty,  as  noting  the  recompense  that  is  made  up 
to  them  for  their  outward  poverty  in  their  hopes  and  privileges.     And 
mark,  God  is  said  to  '  choose  rich  in  faith  ;'  that  is, '  to  be  rich  in  faith/ 
It  is  such  am  expression  as  is  used  Kom.  viii.  29,  'He  hath  chosen 
us  like  his  Son ;'  that  is,  '  to  be  like  his  Son ;'  which  is  plainly  averred 
by  the  apostle,  Eph.  i.  4,  '  He  hath  chosen  us  in  him  that  we  might 
be  holy :'  not  because  we  are  good,  but  that  we  might  be  good.     This 
place  cannot  be  urged  for  the  foresight  of  faith ;  for  as  he  chose  us 
rich  in  faith,  so  he  chose  us  heirs  of  glory :  and  therefore  it  doth  not 
note  the  reason  of  God's  choice,  but  the  end  ;  not  that  they  were  so, 
but  that  they  might  be  so. 

Heirs  of  the  kingdom. — Glory  is  often  set  out  by  a  kingdom,  and 
the  faithful  as  princes  under  years. 

Which  he  hath  promised. — Promises  of  this  nature  are  everywhere : 
Prov.  viii.  17,  '  I  love  them  that  love  me  ;'  so  Exod.  xx.  6,  '  Showing 
mercy  to  thousands  of  them  that  love  me/ 

To  them  that  love  him. — Why  this  grace  is  specified,  see  the  reasons 
alleged  in  the  explication  and  notes  of  the  12th  verse  of  the  first 
chapter.  Only  observe  the  order  used  by  the  apostle  ;  first  he  placeth 
election,  then  faith,  then  love. 

The  notes  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  oftentimes  God  choose th  the  poor  of  this  world.  The 
lion  and  the  eagle  are  passed  by,  and  the  lamb  and  the  dove  chosen  for 
sacrifice.  The  gospel,  that  was  *  hidden  from  the  wise  and  prudent, 
was  revealed  to  babes,'  Mat.  xi.  25.  This  God  doth,  partly  to  show 
the  glory  of  his  power  in  preserving  them,  and  truth  amongst  them,1 

1  '  Adverte  cceleste  consilium  :  non  sapientes  aliquos,  non  divites,  non  nobiles,  sed 
piscatores  et  publicanos,  quos  dirigeret,  elegit ;  ne  traduxisse  poteniia,  redemisse  divitiis, 
nobilitatisque  auctoritate  traxisse  aliquos  videretur,  et  veritatis  ratio,  non  disputationis 
gratia,  praevaleret. — Ambr.  in  Luc,,  cap.  6,  sec.  3. 

VOL.  IV.  N 


that  were  not  upheld  by  worldly  props.  The  church  is  called  '  the 
congregation  of  the  poor/  Ps.  Ixxiv.  19  ;  a  miserable  sort  of  men,  that 
were  destitute  of  all  worldly  advantages.  Usually  he  showeth  his 
power  by  using  weak  means.  Moses'  hand  was  made  leprous  before 
it  wrought  miracles,  Exod.  iv.  Jericho  was  blown  down  with  rams' 
horns,  and  Goliah  slain  with  a  sling  and  a  stone.  Partly  because 
God  would  show  the  riches  of  his  goodness  in  choosing  the  poor.  All 
must  now  be  ascribed  to  mercy.  At  the  first  God  chose  the  worst 
and  the  poorest,  which  was  an  argument  that  he  was  not  moved  with 
outward  respects;  the  most  -  sinful  and  the  most  obscure,1  'that  all 
flesh  might  glory  in  the  Lord/  1  Cor.  i.  28.  A  thief  was  made  the 
delight  of  paradise,  and  Lazarus  taken  into  Abraham's  bosom.  Those 
that  had  not  the  least  pretence  of  glorying  in  themselves  are  invited 
to  grace.  Partly  because  God  would  discover  his  wisdom  by  making 
up  their  outward  defects  by  this  inward  glory.  Levi,  that  had  no  por 
tion  among  his  brethren,  had  the  Lord  for  his  portion.  God  is 
wanting  to  no  creature  ;  the  rich  have  somewhat,  and  the  poor  have 
'  the  favour  of  his  people/  Ps.  cvi.  4,  special  mercies.  The  buyers, 
and  sellers,  and  money-changers  were  whipped  out  of  the  temple  ;  the 
rich  have  least  interest  there.  Partly  that  the  members  might  be 
conformed  to  the  head,  the  saints  to  Christ,  in  meanness  and  suffering: 
Zech.  ix.  9,  '  Thy  king  coraeth  unto  thee  poor.'  Partly  because  pov 
erty  is  a  means  to  keep  them  upright ;  riches  are  a  great  snare.  The 
moon  is  never  eclipsed  but  when  it  is  at  the  full.  Certainly  God's 
people  are  then  in  most  danger.  They  say  the  sun  never  moveth 
slower  than  when  it  is  highest  in  the  zodiac.  Usually  men  are 
never  more  flat  in  duty  and  dead  in  service  than  when  mounted  high 
in  worldly  advantages.  A  pirate  never  setteth  upon  an  empty  vessel: 
the  devil  is  most  busy  in  the  fulness  of  our  sufficiency.  Those  that 
were  taken  up  with  the  pleasantness  of  the  country,  and  saw  it  fit  for 
sheep,  would  not  go  into  Canaan.  The  disciples  pleaded,  '  Lord,  we 
have  left  all  things,  and  followed  thee  ;'  as  if  the  keeping  of  an  estate, 
and  the  keeping  of  Christ  were  hardly  compatible.  Well,  then — (1.) 
You  that  are  poor,  bless  God ;  it  is  all  from  mercy  that  God  should 
look  upon  you.  It  is  a  comfort  in  your  meanness ;  rejected  by  the 
world,  chosen  by  God.  He  that  is  happy  in  his  own  conscience 
cannot  be  miserable  by  the  judgment  of  others  :  Isa.  Ivi.  3, 4,  '  Let  not 
the  eunuch  say,  I  am  a  dry  tree ;  for  I  will  give  him  an  everlasting 
name.'  Be  not  discouraged,  though  outwardly  mean.  The  poor  man 
is  known  to  God  by  name :  Luke  xvi.,  he  hath  a  proper  name,  Lazarus ; 
whereas  the  rich  man  is  called  by  an  appellative  name.  Among 
men  it  is^  otherwise.  Divitum  nomina  sciuntur,  pauperum  nesciuntur, 
saith  Cajetan.  However  we  forget  the  poor,  we  will  be  sure  to  re 
member  the  rich  man's  name  and  title.  (2.)  You  that  are  rich, 
consider  this  is  not  the  favour  of  God's  people ;  be  not  contented  with 
common  bounty.  You  may  have  an  estate,  and  others  may  have 
higher  privileges.  As  Luther,2  profess  that  you  will  not  be  contented 

^Noluit  prius  eligere  senatores,  sed  piscatores,  magna  artificis  misericordia  !  Sciebat 
enim  quia  si  eligeret  senatorem,  diceret  senator,  dignitas  mea  electa  est,  &c.  Et  paulo 
post. — Da  mihi,  in  quit,  istum  piscatorem,  veni  tu  pauper,  sequere  me,  nihil  babes,  nihil 
nosti,  sequere  me.' — Aug.  Ser.  xix.  de  Verb.  Dom. 

2  '  Valde  protestatus  sum  me  nolle  sic  ab  eo  satiari.' — Luth. 

JAS.  II.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  195 

so ;  you  will  not  be  quiet  till  you  have  the  tokens  of  his  special 

Obs.  2.  There  are  poor  in  this  world,  and  poor  in  the  world  to 
come.  Dives,  that  fared  deliciously  every  day,  and  was  clothed  in  fine 
linen,  yet  wanted  a  drop  to  cool  his  tongue.  Desideravit  guttam, 
saith  Austin,  qui  non  dedit  micam  ;  he  wanted  a  drop,  that  would  not 
give  a  crumb  :  Isa.  Ixv.  13,  14,  '  Behold  my  servants  shall  eat,  but  ye 
shall  "be  hungry ;  behold  my  servants  shall  drink,  but  ye  shall  be 
thirsty :  they  shall  rejoice,  but  ye  shall  be  ashamed.'  Ye  are  left  to 
your  choice,  to  be  rich  in  this  world,  but  poor  in  the  world  to  come  ; 
though  here  you  swim  and  wallow  in  a  sea  of  pleasures,  yet  there  you 
may  want  a  drop  to  cool  your  tongue. 

Obs.  3.  The  poor  of  this  world  may  be  spiritually  rich.  The  apostle's 
riddle  is  made  good,  2  Cor.  vi.  10,  '  As  having  nothing,  yet  possessing 
all  things ; '  nothing  in  the  world,  and  all  in  faith. 

Obs.  4.  Faith  maketh  us  truly  rich  ;  it  is  the  open  hand  of  the  soul,  to 
receive  all  the  bounteous  supplies  of  God.  If  we  be  empty  and  poor, 
it  is  not  because  God's  hand  is  straitened,  but  ours  is  not  opened.  A 
man  may  be  poor  notwithstanding  the  abundance  of  wealth:  it  putteth 
a  difference  between  you  and  others  for  a  while,  but  in  the  grave  '  the 
poor  and  the  rich  meet  together/  Job  iii.  19  ;  that  is,  are  all  in  the 
same  estate  without  difference.  In  the  charnel-house  all  skulls  are 
in  the  same  case,  not  to  be  distinguished  by  the  ornaments  or  abasures  of 
temporal  life.  It  is  grace  alone  that  will  make  you  to  excel  for  ever. 
Nay,  riches  cannot  make  you  always  to  differ  in  this  world :  '  They  take 
to  themselves  wings,  and  fly  away/  Prov.  xxiii.  5.  Well,  then,  you 
that  are  poor,  do  not  envy  others'  plenty  ;  you  that  are  rich,  do  not 
please  yourselves  in  these  enjoyments.  Istce  divitice  nee  verce  sunt,  nee 
vestrce — they  are  neither  true  riches,  neither  can  you  always  call  them 
your  own. 

Obs.  5.  The  Lord  loveth  only  the  godly  poor.  There  are  a  wicked 
poor  whose  hearts  are  ignorantly  stubborn,  whose  lives  are  viciously 
profane.  Christ  saith,  '  Blessed  are  the  poor,  for  yours  is  the  kingdom 
of  God/  Luke  vi.  20.  In  the  evangelist  Matthew  it  is  explained, 
1  Blessed  are  the  poor  in  spirit/  Mat.  v.  3.  David  saith,  '  The  ab- 
jects  gathered  themselves  against  me/  Ps.  xxxv.  15.  Many  times 
men  of  that  quality  are  malignant  opposites  to  the  children  and  cause 
of  God,  saucy  dust,  that  will  be  flying  in  the  faces  of  God's  people ; 
and  their  rage  is  the  more  fierce  because  there  is  nothing  of  know 
ledge,  politic  restraints,  and  civil  or  ingenuous  education,  to  break  the 
force  of  it. 

Obs.  6.  All  God's  people  are  heirs  ;  they  are  heirs,  they  are  but  heirs. 
They  are  heirs ;  that  cometh  to  them  by  virtue  of  their  sonship :  Kom. 
viii.  17,  '  If  children,  then  heirs,  heirs  of  God,  and  joint-heirs  with 
Christ/  Jesus  Christ  was  the  natural  son  and  the  natural  heir  ;  and 
we,  being  adopted  sons,  are  adopted  heirs.  He  is  called,  Heb.  i.  2, 
'  the  heir  of  all  things ; '  and  he  hath  invested  us  with  his  own  privi 
leges.  Do  but  consider  what  an  heir  a  child  of  God  is,  one  that  is 
received  into  the  same  privileges  with  Christ ;  and  therefore  the  apostle 
saith,  he  is  a  '  joint-heir.'  In  a  spiritual  manner,  and  as  we  are  capable, 
we  shall  possess  the  same  glory  that  Christ  doth.  Again,  they  are 


heirs  whose  right  is  indefeasible.  Men  may  appoint  heirs,  and  alter 
their  purpose,  especially  concerning  adopted  heirs;  but  God  never 
changeth.  In  assurance  of  it  we  have  earnest,  2  Cor.  i.  22,  and  we 
have  first-fruits,  Kom.  viii.  23.  We  have  earnest  to  show  how  sure, 
we  have  first-fruits  to  show  how  good,  our  inheritance  is  ;  a  taste  how 
good,  and  a  pledge  how  sure.  Well,  then,  you  that  have  tasted  of 
the  grapes  of  Eshcol,  have  had  any  sense  of  your  adoption,  you  may 
be  confident  God  will  never  alter  his  purposes  of  love.  Again,  they 
are  heirs  that  not  only  look  to  inherit  the  goods  of  their  heavenly 
Father,  but  his  person.  God  doth  not  only  make  over  heaven  to  you, 
but  himself :  '  I  will  be  your  God  ; '  quantus  quantus  est,  God  is  yours. 
So  Ps.  xvi.  5,  '  The  Lord  is  the  portion  of  mine  inheritance.'  Again, 
they  are  heirs  that  possess  by1  their  father's  lifetime.  Men  give  their 
estates  to  us  when  they  can  possess  them  no  longer.  But  this  is  our 
happiness,  that  God  and  we  possess  it  together ;  and  therefore  it  is 
said,  '  glorified  with  him.'  Again,  they  are  heirs  to  an  estate  that 
will  not  be  diminished  by  the  multitude  of  co-heirs.  Many  a  fair 
stream  is  drawn  dry  by  being  dispersed  into  several  channels ;  but 
here,  the  more  the  greater  the  privilege.  What  a  happiness  is  it  to 
enjoy  God  among  all  the  saints !  They  '  shall  sit  down  with  Abra 
ham,  and  Isaac,  and  Jacob.'  We  may  jointly  inherit  without  envy. 
The  company  is  a  part  of  the  blessing:  it  is  one  of  the  apostle's 
motives,  *  Ye  are  come  to  an  innumerable  company  of  saints  and 
angels/  Heb.  xii.  22,  23.  It  was  a  foolish  question,  that,  '  Who  shall  be 
greatest  in  the  kingdom  of  heaven  ?  '  Mat.  xviii. ;  for  when  God  is  all  in 
all,  he  will  fill  up  every  vessel.  Such  a  question  suiteth  with  our  present 
state ;  but  in  glory,  as  there  is  no  sin  to  provoke  such  curiosity,  so 
there  is  no  want  to  occasion  it.  They  are  but  heirs  :  alas  !  now  they 
groan  and  wait  for  the  adoption,  Eom.  viii.  23,  that  is,  for  the  full  en 
joyment  of  the  privileges  of  it.  So  1  John  iii.  2,  *  We  are  the  sons 
of  God,  but  it  doth  not  appear  what  we  shall  be  ; '  we  have  a  right, 
but  not  full  possession.  Hope  cannot  conceive  what  the  estate  will 
be  when  it  cometh  in  hand.  There  is  much  goodness  laid  out,  but 
more  laid  up,  Ps.  xxxi.  19.  It  is  observable  that  all  Christian  pri 
vileges  are  spoken  of  in  scripture  as  if  they  did  not  receive  their  ac 
complishment  till  the  day  of  judgment.  I  have  spoken  already  of 
adoption,  that  the  saints  wait  for  it.  For  justification,  then,  we  shall 
know  the  comfort  of  it ;  when  Christ,  in  his  solemn  and  most  imperial 
day,  in  the  midst  of  the  triumph  of  his  justice,  shall  remember  only 
the  services,  and  pass  by  the  sins,  of  the  faithful.  Then  shall  we  know 
the  meaning  of  that  promise,  '  I  am  he  that  f orgiveth  your  iniquities, 
and  will  remember  your  sins  no  more.'  Our  comfort  now  is  mixed, 
and  we  are  often  harassed  with  doubts  and  fears  ;  but  when  our  par 
don  is  solemnly  proclaimed  before  all  the  world,  then  shall  we  indeed 
know  what  it  is  to  be  absolved.  Therefore  the  scripture  speaketh  as 
if  an  act  for  our  justification  were  only  passed  then :  Acts  iii.  19,  *  Ke- 
pent,  that  your  sins  may  be  blotted  out,  when  the  times  of  refreshing 
shall  come  from  the  presence  of  the  Lord.'  And  possibly  that  may 
be  the  reason  of  that  expression  that  intimateth  forgiveness  of  sins 
in  the  world  to  come :  Mat.  xii.  32,  '  It  shall  never  be  forgiven,  in  this 

1  Qu.  'in '  or  '  during  '  ?— ED. 

JAS.  II.  5.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  197 

world,  or  in  the  world  to  come ; '  i.e.,  an  act  of  pardon  can  neither 
now  be  really  passed,  or  then  solemnly  declared.  So  for  redemption  : 
we  shall  not  understand  that  privilege  till  we  are  redeemed  from  death 
and  the  grave,  and  have  a  full  and  final  deliverance  from  all  evils ; 
therefore  we  are  said  to  '  wait  for  the  redemption  of  our  bodies/  Kom. 
viii.  23,  and  '  lift  up  your  heads,  for  your  redemption  draweth  nigh/ 
Luke  xxi.  28.  And  that  possibly  may  be  the  reason  why  the  apostle, 
when  he  numbereth  up  the  fruits  of  our  union  with  Christ,  he  putteth 
redemption  last,  1  Cor.  i.  30.  Here  we  have  righteousness,  wisdom, 
grace,  but  in  the  world  to  come  we  have  redemption  ;  therefore,  the 
day  of  the  Lord  is  called  '  the  day  of  redemption/  Eph.  iv.  30.  So 
also  for  union  with  Christ;  it  is  begun  here,  but  so  often  inter 
rupted,  that  it  is  rather  an  absence  than  a  union  :  2  Cor.  v.  6,  '  Whiles 
we  are  at  home  in  the  body,  we  are  absent  from  the  Lord.'  The  apostle 
speaketh  so,  because  we  do  not  so  freely  enjoy  the  comforts  of  his  pre 
sence.  So  Phil.  i.  23,  '  I  desire  to  be  dissolved,  and  to  be  with  Christ ;' 
a  Christian  is  with  Christ  here,  but  rather  without  him.  Then  shall 
we  know  what  it  is  to  be  with  him,  when  we  shall  in  body  and  soul 
be  translated  into  heaven,  and  be  always  in  his  eye  and  presence.  So 
for  sanctification  :  there  is  so  much  of  the  old  nature  remaining,  that 
there  is  scarce  anything  of  the  new ;  and  therefore  the  day  of  judg 
ment  is  called  TrdXiyyevea-la,  the  regeneration/  Mat.  xix.  28  ;  that  is, 
the  time  when  all  things  are  made  new,  when  we  come  to  be  settled 
in  our  everlasting  state  ;  and  that  may  be  the  occasion  of  the  apostle's 
expression,  1  Thes.  iii.  13,  '  Sanctified  at  Christ's  coming.'  Thus  you 
see,  in  all  points  of  Christian  privilege,  we  are,  though  heirs,  yet  but 
heirs.  Well,  then,  you  that  '  have  the  first-fruits  of  the  Spirit/  come 
and  rejoice  in  your  hopes  :  '  Behold  what  manner  of  love  the  Father 
hath  showed  you ! '  1  John  iii.  1.  We  were  strangers,  yet  we  are 
made  sons — nay,  heirs ;  we  were  of  low  degree — it  may  be  poor,  beg 
garly  in  the  world — yet  have  we  this  egova-lav,  this  dignity  put  upon 
us,  to  be  chosen  to  the  fairest  kingdom  that  ever  was  and  will  be, 
John  i.  12.  We  were  enemies,  rebellious  as  well  as  despicable,  yet 
still  heirs :  from  '  children  of  wrath/  made  '  heirs  of  glory.'  God 
needed  not  such  an  adoption  ;  he  had  a  Son  who  is  called  his  delight 
and  rejoicing  before  all  worlds,  Prov.  viii.  31,  and  yet  he  would  make 
thee,  that  wast  a  stranger  to  his  family,  a  rebel  to  his  crown,  so  base 
in  the  world,  a  joint-heir  with  his  only  Son.  Oh !  what  love  and 
thankfulness  should  this  beget  in  us  !  Every  person  of  the  Godhead 
showeth  his  love  to  us ;  the  Father  he  adopteth  us :  '  Behold  what 
manner  of  love  the  Father/  &c. ;  the  Son  for  a  while  resigneth  and  layeth 
aside  his  honour— nay,  dieth,  to  purchase  our  right,  Gal.  iv.  6;  and 
'  the  Spirit  witnesseth  that  we  are  the  sons  of  God/  Kom.  viii.  15. 
Oh !  adore  the  love  of  the  Trinity  with  high  and  raised  thoughts. 
Consider  what  a  comfort  here  is  against  all  the  discouragements  and 
abasures  that  we  meet  with  in  the  world  ;  princes  in  disguise  are 
often  slighted,  and  the  heirs  of  heaven  are  made  the  world's  reproach. 
But  why  should  you  be  dejected  ?  2  Sam.  xiii.  4,  '  Why  art  thou  so 
lean  from  day  to  day  ?  art  not  thou  the  king's  son  ? '  Are  not  you 
heirs  of  the  kingdom  of  glory  ?  And,  by  the  way,  here  is  some  advice 
to  the  world  :  Do  not  contemn  the  meanest  that  are  godly — they  are 


heirs  ;  every  one  worshippeth  the  rising  sun,  and  observeth  the  heir. 
Oh !  make  you  friends  of  them,  they  will  stead  you  another  day :  Luke 
xvi.  9,  'Make  you  friends  of  the  mammon  of  unrighteousness,  that, 
when  ye  fail,  they  may  receive  you  into  everlasting  habitations  ; '  that 
is,  with  that  wealth,  which  is  usually  abused  to  sin,  make  you  friends 
of  the  poor  godly  saints  ;  they  with  Christ  shall  judge  the  world,  1 
Cor.  vi.  2.  Make  them  friends,  that  they  may  give  their  suffrage  to 
you,  and  receive  you  into  heavenly  joys.  A  main  thing  that  Christ 
taketh  notice  of  at  the  day  of  judgment,  is  this :  *  Thus  have  ye  done 
to  one  of  my  naked  brethren,'  Mat.  xxv.  40. 

Obs.  7.  That  the  faithful  are  heirs  to  a  kingdom.  Heaven  and 
glory  is  often  set  out  to  us  under  that  notion.  You  have  places  every 
where.  Kingdoms  are  for  kings ;  and  every  saint  is  a  spiritual  king : 
Eev.  i.  6,  'He  hath  made  us  kings  and  priests  unto  God  his  Father.' 
Suitable  to  which  expression  it  is  said,  1  Peter  ii.  9,  that  we  are  '  a 
royal  priesthood.'  These  two  dignities  are  joined  together,  because 
heretofore  their  kings  were  priests ;  and  the  heads  of  the  families  were 
the  priests  of  it.  Cohen  signifieth  both  a  prince  of  Midian  and  a  priest 
of  Midian.  But  to  return.  They  are  kings  because  of  that  spiritual 
power  they  have  over  themselves,  sin,  Satan,  and  the  world  ;  and  be 
cause  they  are  kings,  therefore  their  glory  must  be  a  kingdom.  Again, 
Christ  is  a  king,  and  therefore  they  are  kings,  and  his  kingdom  is  their 
kingdom.  Being  united  to  Christ,  they  are  possessed  of  his  royalty. 
Again,  there  is  a  very  great  resemblance  between  the  glory  we  expect 
and  a  kingdom  :  Luke  xii.  32,  '  Fear  not,  little  flock  ;  it  is  your  Father's 
pleasure  to  give  you  a  kingdom/  It  is  called  a  kingdom  in  regard  of 
its  splendour,  festivity,  and  glory.  That  is  the  highest  excellency  and 
note  of  a  difference  amongst  men.  And  also  in  regard  of  attendants  ; 
angels  are  '  ministering  spirits/  Heb.  i.  14.  They  are  so  already ;  but 
there  they  are  as  porters  standing  at  the  twelve  gates  of  our  city,  Rev. 
xxi.  12.  Nay,  Christ  himself  will  gird  himself,  and  serve  those  whom 
he  findeth  watching  at  his  second  coming,  Luke  xii.  37.  And  it  is  a 
kingdom  in  regard  of  power  and  dominion.  '  All  things  are  theirs/ 
1  Cor.  iii.  21,  22.  They  '  shall  judge  the  world/  1  Cor.  vi.  2,  3  ;  yea, 
the  evil  angels.  And  also  in  regard  of  abundance  of  content  and 
satisfaction.  There  is  '  fulness  of  pleasures  for  evermore/  Ps.  xvi.  11. 
All  these  things  concur  to  make  it  a  kingdom.  It  is  a  state  of  the 
highest  honour  and  glory,  great  pleasure  and  contentment,  noble 
attendants,  vast  dominion.  To  all  these  you  may  add  the  great 
liberty  and  freedom  which  we  shall  enjoy  from  sins  and  troubles.  We 
shall  be  above  the  control  of  Satan,  and  the  opposition  of  a  vile  heart. 
Oh  !  then,  we  that  expect  these  things,  '  what  manner  of  persons  ought 
we  to  be?'  The  apostle  hath  an  exhortation  suitable  to  this  pur 
pose:  l^Thes.  ii.  11,  12,  '  Walk  worthy  of  God,  that  hath  called  you 
to  his  kingdom.'  Live  as  kings  for  the  present,  commanding  your 
spirits,  judging  your  souls,  above  ordinary  pursuits — it  is  not  for 
eagles  to  catch  flies  ;  above  ordinary  crosses — cogita  te  Ccesarem  esse. 
Eemember  thou  shalt  one  day  be  a  king  with  God  in  glory.  Enter 
upon  thy  kingdom  by  degrees :  '  The  kingdom  of  God  is  joy  and 
peace  in  the  Holy  Ghost/  Eom.  xiv.  17.  But  now  for  others,  who  as  yet 
remain,  at  the  best,  but  in  an  uncertain  estate,  it  is  a  motive  to  press 

JAS.  II.  6.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  199 

them  to  do  what  they  can  to  interest  themselves  in  these  hopes :  Mat. 
xi.  12,  '  The  kingdom  of  heaven  suffereth  violence/  It  is  a  kingdom, 
and  therefore  men  are  so  violent  for  it.  Oh !  consider,  it  is  for  a 
crown,  and  that  will  encourage  you  to  all  earnestness  of  pursuit.  A 
lazy  wish,  a  drowsy  prayer,  is  not  enough. 

06s.  8.  That  heaven  is  a  kingdom  engaged  by  promise.  It  is  not 
only  good,  to  tempt  your  desires,  but  sure,  to  support  your  hopes.  Look 
upon  it  not  only  as  a  kingdom,  but  as  a  promised  kingdom,  and  judge 
him  faithful  that  hath  promised.  None  can  comfort  themselves  in 
these  hopes  but  they  that  have  interest  in  the  promise.  They  can 
plead  with  God  for  their  own  souls — We  have  thy  word  ;  there  is  a 
'  promise  wherein  thou  hast  caused  us  to  hope/  Ps.  cxix.  49.  Heaven 
is  not  only  prepared,  but  promised.  You  may  not  only  have  loose 
hopes,  but  a  steadfast  confidence. 

Obs.  9.  That  the  promise  of  the  kingdom  is  made  to  those  that  love 
God.  Love  is  the  effect  of  faith,  and  the  ground  of  all  duty,  and  so 
the  best  discovery  of  a  spiritual  estate.  They  do  not  believe  that  do 
not  love  ;  and  they  cannot  obey  that  do  not  love.  Look,  then,  to  this 
grace.  Do  you  love  God  ?  When  promises  have  the  condition  spe 
cified  in  them,  we  cannot  take  comfort  in  the  promise  till  we  are  sure 
of  the  condition.  As  Christ  asked  Simon  Peter,  '  Lovest  thou  me  ? ' 
so  commune  with  your  own  souls,  Dost  thou  love  God  ?  Nay,  urge 
the  soul  with  it  again,  Dost  thou  indeed  love  God  ?  The  effects  and 
products  of  love  are  many.  Those  which  love  God,  love  that  which 
is  of  God.  As  (1.)  His  glory.  Their  great  desire  and  delight  is  to 
honour  him,  that  they  may  be  any  way  serviceable  to  the  glory  of 
God.  The  sin  mentioned,  2  Tim.  iii.  2,  '  Lovers  of  themselves/  is  the 
opposite  frame  to  this.  When  all  that  men  do  is  with  a  self-respect, 
they  have  little  love  to  God.  (2.)  His  commandments.  I  observed 
before,  that  usually  men  love  sin  and  hate  the  commandment.  They 
are  vexed  with  those  holy  laws  that  thwart  their  corrupt  desires. 
Natural  conscience  impresseth  a  sense  of  duty,  and  vile  affection 
worketh  a  dislike  of  it.  But  now,  1  John  v.  3,  '  This  is  the  love  of 
God,  that  his  commandments  are  not  grievous.'  Duty  is  their  delight, 
and  ordinances  their  solace :  Ps.  xxvi.  8,  '  How  have  I  loved  the 
habitation  of  thine  house,  and  the  place  where  thine  honour  dwelleth ! ' 
They  will  desire  to  be  often  in  the  company  of  God,  to  be  there  where 
they  may  meet  with  him.  (3.)  His  friends.  They  love  Christians  as 
Christians,  though  otherwise  never  so  mean.  Love  of  the  brethren  is 
made  an  evidence  of  great  importance,  1  John  iii.  14.  By  these  dis 
coveries  may  you  judge  yourselves. 

Ver.  6.  But  ye  have  despised  the  poor.  Do  not  rich  men  oppress 
you,  and  draw  you  before  the  judgment-seats  ? 

Here  the  apostle  endeavoureth  to  work  them  to  a  sense  of  their  own 
miscarriage.  For,  having  proved  respect  of  persons  a  sin,  he  falleth. 
directly  upon  their  consciences ;  and  you  have  been  guilty  of  it,  you 
have  despised  the  poor.  And  then,  to  show  that  their  practice  was 
not  only  vain  and  evil,  but  mad  and  senseless,  he  urgeth  a  new  argu 
ment  :  '  Do  not  rich  men  oppress  you  ? '  He  doth,  in  effect,  ask  them, 
whether  they  would  show  so  much  honour  to  their  executioners  and 
oppressors  ?  But  you  will  say,  Doth  not  the  apostle  herein  stir  them 


up  to  revenge  ?  and  are  we  not  *  to  love  our  enemies,  and  to  do  good 
to  them  that  hate  us '  ?  I  answer — (1.)  It  is  one  thing  to  love  enemies, 
another  to  esteem  them  out  of  some  perverse  respect ;  and  there  is  a 
difference  between  fawning  and  offices  of  humanity  and  civility. 
(2.)  Some  have  deserved  so  ill  of  the  church,  that  they  cannot  chal 
lenge  the  least  civil  respect  from  the  people  of  God :  3  John  10,  *  Bid 
him  not  God  speed/  So  2  Kings  iii.  14,  '  Were  it  not  for  Jehosha- 
phat,  the  king  of  Judah,  I  would  not  look  towards  thee,  nor  see  thee/ 
(3.)  The  apostle  doth  not  speak  to  the  persons,  but  to  the  case.  Will 
you  honour  wealth,  which  is  the  visible  cause  of  all  mischief  ?  You 
see  that  men  of  that  rank  and  order  are  usually  persecutors  and  blas 
phemers.  He  speaketh  of  rich  men  in  general,  not  such  as  used  to 
frequent  the  church  and  synagogue ;  for  otherwise  you  mistake  the 
apostle's  argument  if  you  think  the  words  directed  to  the  persons 
rather  than  the  order.  His  argument  runneth  thus  :  Will  you  prefer 
men  for  wealth  in  the  church,  when  you  see  that  none  are  so  mis 
chievous,  and  such  public  enemies  to  the  church,  as  those  that  are 
wealthy  ?  To  prove  that  wealth  is  no  sufficient  ground  of  Christian 
respect,  he  urgeth  the  usual  abuse  of  it. 

But  ye  have  despised  the  poor. — He  showeth  how  contrary  their 
practice  was  to  God's  dispensation  :  God  hath  put  honour  upon  them, 
but  ye  dishonour  them,  as  the  original  word  signifieth.  The  prophet 
expresseth  such  a  like  sin  thus:  Amos  v.  11, '  Ye  have  trodden  the 
poor  under  foot/ 

Do  not  rich  men. — Either  he  meaneth  rich  Pagans  and  Jews  that 
had  not  embraced  Christianity,  persecutions  usually  arising  from  men 
of  that  sort  and  order,  as  the  scribes,  pharisees,  and  high  priests : 
'  The  chief  men  of  the  city  were  stirred  up  against  Paul  and 
Barnabas/  Acts  xiii.  50  ;  or  else  pseudo-Christians,  who,  being  great 
and  powerful,  oppressed  their  brethren,  and  used  all  manner  of 
violence  towards  them.  Or,  rather,  in  general,  any  sort  of  rich  men. 

Oppress  you. — The  word  is  /caraSwao-Tevovo-i,,  abuse  their  power 
against  you,  or  usurp  a  power  over  you  which  was  never  given  them. 
In  which  sense  Solomon  saith,  Prov.  xxii.  7,  *  The  rich  ruleth  over 
the  poor,  and  the  borrower  is  servant  to  the  lender/  Ruleth,  that  is, 
arrogateth  a  power,  though  not  invested  with  the  honour  of  magis 

And  draw  you  before  the  judgment-seats? — If  it  be  understood  of 
the  unconverted  Jews,  the  meaning  is,  they  helped  forward  the 
persecution,  and  implieth  the  same  with  that,  Mat.  x.  17,  *  They 
shall  deliver  you  up  to  councils/  Or,  if  of  rich  men  in  the  general,  to 
which  I  rather  incline,  it  noteth  the  violent  practices  which  they 
used  to  the  poor,  dragging  them,  as  they  used  to  do  with  their 
debtors :  '  He  plucked  him  by  the  throat,'  Mat.  xviii.  28.  And  the 
prophet  Isaiah  expresseth  the  same  cruelty  by  *  smiting  with  the  fist 
of  wickedness,'  Isa.  Iviii.  4.  A  great  liberty  the  creditor  had  over  the 
debtor  among  the  Jews,  and  that  our  apostle  intimateth  in  the  word 
eX/cowi,  'they  draw  you;'  and  when  he  addeth  'before  judgment- 
seats/  he  aggravateth  this  wickedness  that  was  now  grown  customary 
among  them ;  which  was  not  only  violent  usage  of  the  poor,  but 
oppressing  them  under  a  form  of  law:  either  wearing  them  out  by 

JAS.  II.  6.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  201 

vexatious  suits,  or  defrauding  them  presently  of  their  right,  through 
the  favour  which  they  obtained  by  their  power  and  greatness, — a 
practice  common  among  all  nations,  but  especially  among  the  Jews, 
and  therefore  is  it  everywhere  noted  in  the  scriptures.  See  Ps. 
x.  9,  10. 

The  notes  are  these : — 

Obs.  1.  From  that  despised  the  poor.  That  known  and  apparent 
guilt  must  be  roundly  charged.  Nathan  said  to  David,  2  Sam.  xii. 
7,  '  Thou  art  the  man/  When  the  practice  is  notorious,  a  faint 
accusation  doth  no  good.  The  prophet  striketh  David  on  the  breast ; 
this  is  thy  sin.  When  a  city  is  on  fire,  will  a  man  come  coldly  and 
say,  Yonder  is  a  great  fire,  I  pray  God  it  doth  no  harm  ?  No ;  he 
will  cry,  Fire,  fire ;  you  are  undone  if  you  do  not  quench  it.  So 
when  the  practice  is  open  and  clearly  sinful,  it  is  not  good  to  come 
with  a  contemplative  lecture  and  lame  homily,  but  to  fall  to  the 
case  directly.  Ye  have  despised  the  poor.  Sirs,  this  is  your  sin,  and 
if  you  do  not  reform  it,  this  will  be  you  ruin.  It  is  good  to  be  a 
little  warm  when  the  sin  is  common  and  the  danger  imminent. 

Obs.  2.  From  that  but  you.  He  opposeth  their  practice  to  God's 
dispensation;  that  despising  the  poor  is  a  sin,  not  only  against  the 
word  and  written  will  of  God,  but  his  mind  and  intent  in  his  works 
and  dispensations.  It  is  a  kind  of  gigantomachy,  a  resisting  of  God. 
(1.)  It  is  against  the  mind  of  God  in  their  creation  :  Prov.  xxii.  2, 
'  The  rich  and  the  poor  meet  together,  the  Lord  is  the  maker  of  them 
both  ; '  that  is,  they  meet  in  this,  that  they  have  but  one  maker. 
There  is  another  meeting,  Job  iii.  15 ;  they  meet  in  the  grave,  they 
meet  in  their  death,  and  in  their  maker.  Now  God  never  made  a 
creature  for  contempt.  These  considerations  should  restrain  it.  They 
were  made  as  we  were,  and  they  die  as  we  do.  The  poor  man  is 
called  our  '  own  flesh,'  Isa.  Iviii.  7 ;  Adam's  child,  as  we  are.  (2.)  It 
is  against  God's  providence, — his  common  providence,  who  hath  con 
stituted  this  order  in  the  world  :  Prov.  xvii.  5,  '  Whoso  reproacheth 
the  poor  despiseth  his  maker  ;'  that  is,  contemneth  the  wise  dispensa 
tion  of  God,  who  would  have  the  world  to  consist  of  hills  and  valleys, 
and  the  poor  intermingled  with  the  rich ;  therefore  Christ  saith, 
Mat.  xxvi.  11,  £  The  poor  you  have  always  present  with  you.'  It  is  one 
of  the  settled  constitutions  and  laws  of  providence,  and  it  is  necessary 
for  the  uses  and  services  of  the  world  ;  this  preserveth  order.  There 
are  many  offices  and  functions  which  human  societies  cannot  want, 
and  therefore  some  men's  spirits  are  fitted  for  handicrafts,  and  hard 
manual  labours,  to  which  men  of  a  higher  spirit  and  delicate  breeding 
will  not  condescend.  (3.)  It  is  also  against  God's  special  providence, 
by  which  many  times  the  greatest  gifts  are  bestowed  upon  them  that 
are  poor  and  despicable  in  the  world  ;  their  wit  being  sharpened  by 
necessity,  they  may  have  the  clearer  use  of  reason.  Naaman's  servant 
saw  more  than  his  master,  2  Kings  v.  13  ;  and  Solomon  telleth  of  '  a 
poor  man  that  delivered  the  city,''  Eccles.  ix.  15.  Nay,  God  many 
times  putteth  that  singular  honour  of  being  heirs  of  salvation  upon 
them.  The  poor  are  rich  in  faith  in  the  context ;  and  then  injury  must 
needs  redound  to  him,  for  they  are  his  friends  and  children;  and 
friends  have  all  things  common,  both  courtesies  and  injuries. 


Ols.  3.  Kich  men  are  usually  persecutors  or  oppressors.  Their 
wickedness  hath  the  advantage  of  an  occasion.  And  usually  when  a 
disposition  and  an  occasion  meet  together,  then  sin  is  drawn  forth 
and  discovered.  Many  have  will,  but  have  no  power*  The  world 
would  be  a  common  stage  to  act  all  manner  of  villanies  upon,  were  it 
not  for  such  restraints  of  providence.  Therefore  Solomon  maketh  an 
oppressing  poor  men  to  be  a  kind  of  wonder  and  prodigy.  Besides, 
riches  exalt  the  mind,  and  efferate  it.  They  have  had  little  experience 
of  misery,  and  so  have  little  pity.  God's  motives  to  Israel  were  these : 
Do  good  to  strangers,  for  thou  wert  a  stranger  ;  and  do  good  to  the 
poor,  for  thy  father  was  a  poor  Syrian.  Such  reasonings  are  frequent 
in  scripture.  But  now,  when  men  live  altogether  at  ease,  their  hearts 
are  not  meekened  with  a  sense  of  the  accidents  and  inconveniences  of 
the  common  life.  And  therefore,  having  power  in  their  hands,  they 
use  it,  as  beasts  do  their  strength,  in  acts  of  violence.  The  prophet 
often  complaineth,  Amos  vi.,  of  '  the  excellency  of  Jacob/  and  '  the 
oppression  that  was  in  her  palaces/  Again,  wealth  often  endeth  in 
pride,  and  pride  breaketh  all  common  and  moral  restraints ;  and  so 
men  make  their  will  a  law,  and  think  as  if  the  rest  of  the  world  were 
made  to  serve  their  pleasures.  And  besides,  the  world  filleth  their 
hearts  with  a  ravenous  desire  to  have  more  of  the  world,  how  unjustly 
soever  it  be  purchased  and  gotten.  You  see  the  reason  why  they  are 
oppressors  and  they  are  persecutors,  because  commonly  the  meanest 
are  most  forward  in  religion.  The  spirit  of  the  world  and  the  spirit 
of  Christ  are  at  enmity.  The  gospel  putteth  men  upon  the  same 
level,  which  persons  elevated  and  exalted  cannot  endure.  Besides, 
they  are  afraid  that  the  things  of  Christ  will  bring  some  disturbance 
to  their  worldly  concernments  and  possessions.  The  Jewish  rulers 
were  afraid  of  division  among  the  people,  and  the  coming  in  of  the 
Romans.  The  Gadarenes  were  afraid  of  their  hogs.  Many  such 
reasons  might  be  given.  Well,  then,  rich  men  should  be  more  care 
ful  to  avoid  the  sins  that  seem  to  cleave  to  their  rank  and  order.  It 
is  very  hard,  but  '  with  God  all  things  are  possible/  Wealth  is  called 
'the  mammon  of  unrighteousness/  Luke  xvi.  9.  because  it  is  usually 
the  instrument  and  incentive  of  it.  That  of  Jerome  is  harsh,  but  too 
often  true — Omnis  dives  aut  iniquus  est,  aut  iniqui  limres — that  every 
rich  man  is  either  an  oppressor  himself,  or  the  heir  of  one.  Certainly  it 
is  but  almost  impossible  to  be  rich  and  righteous.  There  are  many  evils 
incident  to  your  state.  Moral  evils,  such  as  heathens  discerned,  as 
pride :  '  Charge  them  that  they  be  not  high-minded/  1  Tim.  vi.  17. 
Boasting,  with  some  contempt  of  others :  Jer.  ix.  23,  '  Let  not  the 
rich  man  glory  in  his  riches  ; '  so  injustice  :  Prov.  xxii.  7,  '  The  rich 
ruleth  over  the  poor ; '  that  is,  by  force  and  violence :  the  word 
may  be  read,  '  domineereth/  Then  luxury  and  profuseness.  Men 
abuse  the  fatness  of  their  portion,  and  lay  it  out  upon  their  lusts. 
Dives  *  fared  deliciously  every  day/  But  there  are  also  spiritual 
evils,  which  are  worse,  because  they  lie  more  closely  and  undiscerned. 
These  are — (1.)  Forgetting  of  God,  when  he  hath  remembered  them 
most.  Men  that  live  at  ease  have  little  or  no  sense  of  duty.  Agur 
prayeth,  '  Give  me  not  riches,  lest  I  be  full,  and  deny  thee/  Prov.  xxx. 
9.  And  (2.)  creature-confidence.  Hence  those  frequent  cautions  :  1 

JAS,  II.  7.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  203 

Tim.  vi.  17,  *  Trust  not  in  uncertain  riches ; '  and  Ps.  Ixii.  10,  '  If 
riches  increase,  set  not  your  hearts  upon  them/  Usually  the  creatures 
rival  God ;  and  when  we  enjoy  them  in  abundance,  it  is  hard  to  keep 
off  the  heart  from  trust  in  them.  (3.)  Worldliness.  We  are  tainted 
by  the  objects  with  which  we  usually  converse ;  and  the  more  men 
have,  the  more  sparing  for  God's  uses  and  their  own.  Solomon 
speaketh  of  '  riches  kept  by  the  owners  to  their  hurt/  Eccles.  v.  13. 
And  there  is  an  expression  in  the  book  of  Job,  chap.  xx.  22,  '  In  the 
fulness  of  his  sufficiency,  he  shall  be  in  straits.'  There  is  no  greater 
argument  of  God's  curse  than  to  have  an  estate  and  not  to  enjoy  it. 
So  (4.)  security  :  Luke  xii.  19,  *  Soul,  take  thine  ease,  thou  hast  goods 
laid  up  for  many  years.'  These  are  evils  that  cleave  to  wealth,  like 
rust  to  money.  I  have  but  named  them,  because  I  would  not  digress 
into  illustrations. 

Ver.  7.  Do  not  theylilaspheme  that  worthy  nameby  wliich  ye  are  called? 

He  proceedeth  in  reckoning  up  the  abuses  of  riches.  Who  are  the 
enemies  of  God  and  of  religion,  the  scorners  of  the  worthy  name  of 
Christians,  but  the  rich  ? 

Do  not  they  blaspheme. — Some  interpret  it  of  the  carnal  rich  men 
that  professed  religion,  as  if,  by  the  scandal  of  their  practices,  they 
had  brought  an  odium  and  ill  report  upon  Christianity  itself.  So  that 
'  they  blaspheme/  in  their  sense,  is,  'they  cause  to  blaspheme/  They 
think  it  is  an  Hebraism,  kal  for  hiphil.  The  whole  stream  of  inter 
preters  run  this  way.  They  urge  for  it  those  parallel  places  :  Rom. 
ii.  24,  '  Through  you  is  the  name  of  God  blasphemed  among  the  Gen 
tiles  ; '  and  2  Peter  ii.  2,  by  them  is  '  the  way  of  truth  evil  spoken 
of ; '  that  is,  by  their  means.  And  that  in  the  1st  epistle  to  Timothy, 
chap.  vi.  1,  Let  servants  be  obedient,  '  that  the  name  of  God  and  his 
doctrine  be  not  blasphemed  ; '  and  Titus  ii.  5,  The  wives  should  be 
discreet  and  chaste,  '  that  the  word  of  God  be  not  blasphemed/  Cer 
tainly  religion  is  never  more  dishonoured  than  by  the  lives  of  carnal 
professors.  But  this  is  the  great  mistake  of  this  context,  to  apply 
what  is  here  spoken  to  rich  Christians.  The  apostle  only  giveth  an 
observation  of  the  manners  of  the  rich  men  of  that  age ;  they  were 
usually  such  as  were  bitter  enemies  to  Christianity ;  and  thereupon 
inferreth  that  wealth  was  not  a  valuable  consideration  in  the  church 
to  prefer  men  to  places  of  rule  and  honour,  or  to  further  their  cause 
whenever  it  came  into  debate. 

That  worthy  name,  /ca\bv,  '  honourable ; '  as  before,  ver.  3. — 
/caXft)?,  '  in  a  good  place/  is,  in  the  original,  honourably. 

By  which  ye  are  called. — In  the  original,  TO  eTriK\7)Qkv  efi 
vpas,  'which  is  called  upon  you;'  and  some  interpret  that  thus, 
'  which  you  call  upon.'  It  is  made  a  description  of  Christians  :  1  Cor. 
i.  2,  '  All  that  call  upon  the  name  of  Christ ; '  and  2  Tim.  ii.  18,  '  Let 
him  that  nameth  the  name  of  Christ.'  Or  else  thus :  Which  is  called 
upon  over  you ;  that  is,  in  baptism,  Mat.  xxviii.  19,  and  Acts  ii.  38. 

name  be  called  upon  us  ; '  or  to  children,  as  Gen.  xlviii.  16,  *  Let  my 
name  be  called  on  them,  and  the  name  of  my  fathers,'  &c. ;  and  so  it 


implieth  the  name  of  Christ,  which  is  put  upon  his  people,  who  sus 
tain  these  relations  to  him  of  spouse  and  children. 

The  notes  are  these : — 

066'.  1.  That  wicked  rich  men,  ahove  all  others,  are  most  prone  to 
blasphemy.  They  '  set  their  hearts  as  the  heart  of  God,'  Ezek.  xxviii. 
5,  6.  Eiches  beget  pride,  and  pride  endeth  in  atheism.  Besides, 
they,  enjoying  a  most  liberal  use  of  the  creature,  are  apt  to  talk  un 
seemly.  When  their  hearts  are  warmed  and  inflamed  with  wine  and 
mirth,  they  cannot  contain,  but  must  needs  disgorge  their  malice  upon 
the  ways  and  servants  of  Christ.  The  merry  and  full-fed  Babylonians 
must  have  a  Hebrew  song,  Ps.  cxxxvii.  And  it  is  no  feast  with 
many  unless  John  the  Baptist's  head  be  brought  in  a  charger.  Reli 
gion,  or  religious  persons,  must  be  served  in  to  feed  their  mirth  and 

Obs.  2.  They  that  love  Christ  will  hate  blasphemers.  When  he 
would  work  them  into  a  disesteem  of  these  ungodly  wretches,  he  saith, 
*  Do  they  not  blaspheme  that  worthy  name  ?  '  Moses  burned  with  a 
holy  zeal  when  he  heard  that  one  had  blasphemed  God,  Lev.  xxiv.  13, 
14.  And  David  saith,  Ps.  cxxxix.  20-22,  '  They  speak  against  thee 
wickedly ;  thine  enemies  take  thy  name  in  vain.  Do  not  I  hate  them 
that  hate  thee  ?  1  hate  them  with  a  perfect  hatred  :  I  count  them 
mine  enemies/  Love  is  tender  of  the  least  wrong  done  to  the  thing 
beloved.  More  especially  will  it  sparkle  and  burn  with  a  fiery  zeal  when 
such  high  contempt  is  cast  upon  it  as  blasphemy  putteth  upon  Christ. 
Those  Gallios  of  our  time,  that  can  so  tamely,  and  without  any  in 
dignation,  hear  the  worthy  name  of  Christ  profaned  with  execrable 
blasphemies,  show  how  little  love  they  have  to  him.  David  counted 
them  his  enemies  that  spoke  wickedly  against  his  God ;  but  such  are 
their  darlings. 

Obs.  3.  That  Christ's  name  is  a  worthy  name.  Christianity  will 
never  be  a  disgrace  to  you  ;  you  may  be  a  disgrace  to  Christianity.  '  I 
am  not  ashamed/  saith  the  apostle  Paul,  '  of  the  gospel  of  Christ/ 
Eom.  i.  16.  Many  are  ashamed  to  own  their  profession  in  carnal  com 
pany,  as  if  there  could  be  any  disgrace  in  being  Christ's  servant.  Oh ! 
it  is  an  honour  to  you.  And  as  Christianity  is  an  honour  to  you,  so 
should  you  be  an  honour  to  it,  that  you  may  not  stain  a  worthy  name : 
'Adorn  the  gospel/  Titus  ii.  10.  The  herd  of  wicked  men  they  are 
ignota  capita,  persons  unknown  and  unobserved  ;  they  may  sin,  and 
sin  again,  yet  the  world  taketh  no  notice  of  it.  But  how  doth  it  fur 
nish  the  triumphs  of  the  uncircumcised  to  see  men  of  a  worthy  name 
overtaken  in  an  offence  ?  The  Hams  of  the  world  will  laugh  to  see 
a  Noah  drunk.  Spots  and  stains  in  white  are  soon  discerned. 

Obs.  4.  The  people  of  Christ  are  named  and  called  after  Christ's 
name  ;  Christians,  from  Christ.  The  apostle  saith,  Eph.  iii.  15,  *  From 
him  the  whole  family,  both  in  heaven  and  earth,  is  named/  The  name 
was  first  given  them  at  Antioch,  Acts  xi.  26.  They  were  called  'disciples' 
before,  but,  to  distinguish  themselves  from  false  brethren,  they  named 
themselves  '  Christians/  They  were  called  '  Nazarites'  and '  Galileans ' 
by  their  enemies ;  and  about  this  time  there  was  a  sect  of  that  name, 
half  Jews  and  half  Christians.  Now  the  very  name  presseth  us  to 
care  and  holiness.  Eernember  what  Christ  did :  you  are  called  after 

JAS.  II.  8.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  205 

his  name :  2  Tim.  ii.  19,  '  Let  every  one  that  nameth  the  name  of 
Christ  depart  from  iniquity : '  mi?  o  ovopafav,  he  that  counteth  it  his 
honour  to  use  the  name  of  Christ  in  invocation.  Alexander  the 
Great  said  to  one  of  his  captains,  that  was  also  called  Alexander, 
Recordare  nominis  Alexandri — see  you  do  nothing  unworthy  the 
name  of  Alexander.  So,  see  you  do  nothing  unworthy  the  name  of 
Christ.  And,  as  another  said,  speaking  of  something  unbeseeming,  I 
could  do  it,  if  I  were  not  Themistocles  ;  so,  I  could  do  it,  if  I  were  not 
a  Christian.  Or,  as  Nehemiah, '  Should  such  a  man  as  I  flee  ? '  Shall 
I,  that  am  named  by  the  name  of  Christ,  do  this  ?  Again,  this  name 
is  an  argument  which  you  may  use  to  God  in  prayer  for  grace  and 
mercy  ;  his  name  is  upon  you,  that  endeareth  you  to  his  bowels.  God's 
promises  are  made  to  such, '  If  the  people  that  are  called  by  my  name/ 
&c.,  2  Chron.  vii.  14.  And  so  there  is  a  notable  promise,  Deut. 
xxviii.  10,  '  And  all  the  people  of  the  earth  shall  see  that  thou  art 
called  by  the  name  of  God,  and  they  shall  be  afraid  of  thee/  So  you 
shall  see  the  church  pleading  this,  Jer.  xiv.  9, '  Yet  thou,  0  Lord,  art 
in  the  midst  of  us,  and  we  are  called  by  thy  name  ;  leave  us  not.'  So 
may  you  go  to  God  :  Lord,  it  is  thus  with  us,  but (  we  are  called  by 
thy  name/ 

Ver.  8.  If  ye  fulfil  the  royal  law,  according  to  the  scriptures,  Thou 
shall  love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself,  ye  do  well. 

Now  he  comes  to  discover  the  ground  upon  which  they  did  thus 
preposterously  dispense  their  respects.  It  was  not  charity,  as  they  did 
pretend,  but  having  men's  persons  in  admiration,  because  of  advantage. 
For  this  verse  is  a  prolepsis,  or  a  prevention  of  an  excuse  foreseen, 
which  might  be  framed  thus  :  That  they  were  not  to  be  blamed  for 
being  too  humble,  and  giving  respect  there,  where  it  was  least  due ; 
and  that  they  did  it  out  of  relation  to  the  common  good,  and  a  neces 
sary  observance  of  those  ranks  and  degrees  which  God  hath  constituted 
among  men.  The  apostle  supposeth  this  objection,  and  answereth  it 
partly  by  concession :  if  you  do  it  in  obedience  to  the  second  table 
(the  tenor  of  which  the  apostle  expresseth  by  that  general  rule  '  Thou 
shalt  love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself '),  then,  such  respect,  rightly  regu 
lated,  and  '  according  to  the  scriptures/  is  but  a  duty  ;  partly  by  way 
of  conviction :  your  inordinate  respect  of  the  rich,  with  contempt  of 
the  poor,  is  such  a  flattery  and  partiality  which  the  law  doth  openly 
condemn.  The  poor,  and  those  whom  we  may  help  and  relieve, 
being  in  the  law,  or  scripture-notion,  as  much,  yea,  rather  more,  the 
neighbour  than  the  rich. 

If  ye  fulfil,  reXetre. — If  ye  do  squarely  and  roundly  come  up  to  the 
obedience  of  the  law,  that  part  of  it  which  is  the  rule  of  outward 
respects.  The  word  properly  signifies,  '  if  ye  perfectly  accomplish/ 
Sincerity  is  a  kind  of  perfection.  The  Papists,  among  other  places, 
bring  this  for  one  to  show  that  a  just  man  may  fulfil  the  law  of  God. 
In  this  place  it  only  implies  a  sincere  respect  to  the  whole  duty  of  the 

The  royal  law.— So  he  calleth  it,  either  because  God  is  the  King  of 
kings,  and  Jesus  Christ  the  King  of  saints,  Kev.  xv.  3 ;  and  so  the 
law,  either  in  God's  hands  or  Christ's  hands,  is  a  royal  law,  the  least 
deflection  from  which  is  rebellion.  You  would  not  easily  break  kings' 


laws.  God's  laws  are  royal  laws  because  of  the  dignity  of  the  author 
of  them.  The  Syriac  interpreter  favoureth  this  sense,  for  he  trans- 
lateth  it  '  the  law  of  God  ; '  or  they  may  be  called  so  from  their  own 
worth :  that  which  is  excellent,  we  call  it  royal ;  or  else  because  of 
its  great  power  upon  the  conscience.  Men's  laws  are  but  properly 
ministerial  and  explicatory  ;  God's  is  royal  and  absolute.  Or  '  the 
royal  law/  to  show  the  plainness  and  perspicuity  of  it,  like  '  a  royal 
way ; '  or,  as  we  express  it,  '  the  king's  highway/  So  it  is  said, 
Num.  xxi.  22,  '  We  will  only  go  by  the  king  s  way/  Suitable  to 
which  expression,  '  the  royal  law '  may  imply  the  highway  and  road  of 
duty.  Or,  lastly,  a  royal  law,  to  note  the  ingenuity  of  its  precepts. 
The  command  of  God,  that  is  to  guide  you  in  dispensing  your  respects, 
doth  not  oblige  you  to  this  servility ;  the  duty  of  it  is  more  royal  and 

According  to  the  scriptures  ;  that  is,  as  the  tenor  of  it  is  often  set 
down  in  the  word.  The  form  here  specified  is  often  repeated,  Lev. 
xix.  18.  The  Septuagint,  in  the  translation  of  that  place,  have  the 
same  words  with  our  apostle.  It  is  often  repeated  by  our  Lord,  see 
Mat.  xxii.  39  ;  and  often  by  the  apostles,  see  Kom.  xiii.  9  ;  Gal.  v.  14. 
The  full  import  of  this  rule  we  shall  anon  open. 

Ye  do  ivell. — The  same  form  is  used,  Phil.  iv.  14,  and  implieth  that 
then  they  were  not  blameworthy,  and  might  justly  be  absolved  and 
acquitted  from  the  guilt  charged  in  the  context.  And  by  the  way  we 
may  hence  gather,  that  the  apostle  doth  not  simply  forbid  a  respect  to 
the  rich,  but  a  respect  sordid  and  invested  with  the  circumstances  of 
the  context. 

Out  of  this  verse  observe  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  vilest  wickedness  will  have  a  fair  covert  and  pre 
tence.  Sin  loves  to  walk  under  a  disguise  ;  the  native  face  of  it  is 
ugly  and  odious.  Therefore  Satan  in  policy,  and  our  hearts  deceived 
by  ignorance  and  self-love,  seek  to  mask  and  hide  it,  that  we  may 
spare  ourselves,  which  should  press  us  to  the  greater  heed.  Never 
seek  a  cover  of  duty  for  a  vile  practice,  and  to  excuse  checks  of  con 
science  by  some  pretence  from  the  law.  It  is  Satan's  cunning  some 
times  to  dress  up  sins  in  the  form  and  appearance  of  duty,  and  at 
other  times  to  represent  duty  in  the  garb  of  sin :  as  Christ's  healing 
on  the  Sabbath  day.  Be  the  more  suspicious,  especially  in  a  matter 
wherein  your  private  advantage  is  concerned,  lest  base  compliance 
be  reputed  a  necessary  submission,  and  unjust  gain  be  counted  godli 
ness.  Examine  the  nature  of  the  practice  by  the  rule,  Is  the  royal 
law  appliable  to  such  servility  ?  And  examine  your  own  hearts.  Is 
my  aim  right  as  well  as  my  action  ?  It  is  not  enough  to  do  what 
the  law  requires,  but  it  must  be  done  in  that  manner  which  the  law 
requireth.  Matter  of  duty  may  be  turned  into  sin,  where  the  respect 
and  aim  is  carnal. 

Obs.  2.  That  coming  to  the  law  is  the  best  way  to  discover  self- 
deceits.  If  it  be  according  to  the  law  (saith  the  apostle),  it  is  well. 
Paul  died  by  the  coming  of  the  commandment,  Kom.  vii.  9  ;  that  is, 
in  conviction  upon  his  heart ;  saw  himself  in  a  dead  and  lost  estate. 
So  Eom.  iii.  20,  '  By  the  law  is  the  knowledge  of  sin  ;'  and  therefore  we 
should  often  talk  with  the  commandment,  consult  with  it  in  all  practices. 

JAS.  II.  8.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  207 

Obs.  3.  That  the  Lord's  law  is  a  royal  law.  (1.)  It  hath  a  kingly 
author.  The  solemn  motive  to  obedience  is,  'I  am  the  Lord.' 
Marcion  blasphemed  in  saying  the  law  came  from  an  evil  God. 
Many  now  speak  so  contemptuously  of  it  as  if  they  had  a  Marcionite's 
spirit.  The  same  Lord  Jesus  that  gave  the  gospel  gave  also  the  law. 
Therefore  it  is  so  often  said,  Acts  vii.,  that  the  law  was  '  given  by  an 
angel ; '  that  is,  the  angel  of  the  covenant.  So  Heb.  xii.  25  to  end  ; 
the  apostle  proves  that  it  was  the  voice  of  the  Lord  Jesus  that  shook 
Mount  Sinai.  It  is  a  known  rule  in  divinity  that  the  Father  never 
appeared  in  any  shape,  and  therefore  that  all  those  apparitions  in  the 
Old  Testament  were  of  the  second  person.  (2.)  It  requires  noble 
work,  fit  for  kings  ;  service  most  proportioned  to  the  dignity  of  a  man's 
spirit.  Service  is  an  honour,  and  duty  a  privilege :  Hosea  viii.  12, 
'  The  great  things '  (it  is  in  the  vulgar  Jionorabilia  legis,  the  honour 
able  things)  '  of  my  law/  It  is  said  of  Israel  that  no  nation  was  so 
high  in  honour  above  all  nations,  because  they  had  God's  statutes, 
which  was  '  their  wisdom/  Deut.  vii.  The  brightest  part  of  God's 
glory  is  his  holiness ;  and  therefore  it  is  said,  '  Glorious  in  holiness ; ' 
and  it  is  our  dignity  to  be  holy.  That  must  needs  be  a  royal  law 
that  maketh  all  those  kings  that  fulfil  it.  (3.)  There  is  royal  wages  ; 
no  less  than  all  of  you  to  be  made  kings  and  princes  unto  God  :  '  Enter 
into  the  kingdom  prepared  for  you  ; '  and,  '  henceforth  is  laid  up  for 
me  a  crown,'  2  Tim.  iv.  8.  This  is  the  entertainment  that  ye  shall 
have  from  God  hereafter,  to  be  all  crowned  kings  and  princes.  Oh  ! 
then,  give  the  law  this  honour  in  your  thoughts.  Naturally  men 
adore  strictness.  How  great  is  the  excellency  of  God's  statutes! 
Check  yourselves,  that  you  can  no  more  come  under  the  power  of 
them.  In  the  ways  of  sin  you  have  a  bad  master,  worse  work,  and  the 
worst  wages.  There  is  a  bad  master :  '  His  lusts  will  ye  do/  John  viii. 
44 ;  they  are  Satan's  lusts,  he  is  the  author  of  them.  There  is  bad 
work ;  sin  is  the  greatest  bondage  and  thraldom,  2  Peter  ii.  18,  the 
heart  naturally  riseth  against  it.  Then  there  is  bad  wages :  Born,  vi., 
'  The  wages  of  sin  is  death/  Well,  then,  press  these  disproportions,  and 
say,  '  What  evil  have  I  found  in  God  ? '  Jer.  ii.  5.  Hath  God  or 
sin  been  a  land  of  darkness  to  me  ?  I  have  served  him  these  eighty 
years  (said  Poly  carp),  /cal  OVK  rjSifcijcre  ^e,  and  he  never  did  me  harm. 
Eeason  with  yourselves :  Will  you  sin  against  a  royal  Lord,  such  royal 
work,  such  a  royal  reward  ? 

Obs.  4.  That  the  rule  that  God  hath  left  us  is  laid  down  in  the 
scriptures ;  there  is  the  signification  of  his  will,  and  from  thence  must 
it  be  sought :  they  are  '  able  to  make  the  man  of  God  perfect/ 

Obs.  5.  The  scriptures  require  we  should  love  our  neighbour  as  our 
selves.  Paul  saith,  Gal.  v.  14,  '  All  the  law  is  fulfilled  in  one  word  : 
love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself/  All  the  law,  that  is,  all  that  part  of 
the  law  which  concerns  our  duty  towards  others;  or  all  the  law,  ^  by 
worshipping  God,  in  discharging  our  duty  towards  man,  and  so  turning 
both  tables  into  one.  And  Christ  saith,  Mat.  vii.  12,  '  This  is  the 
law,  and  the  prophets ' — that  is,  the  sum  of  the  whole  word,  and  that 
standard  of  equity  which  is  erected  therein— that  '  whatsoever  ye 
would  that  men  should  do  to  you,  do  ye  even  so  to  them  : '  for  which 
saying  Severus  reverenced  Christ  and  Christianity.  But  must  a  man 


love  his  neighbour  with  the  same  proportion  of  care  and  respect  that 
he  doth  himself  ?  The  special  love  of  a  man  to  his  wife  is  expressed 
by  this,  Eph.  v.  28,  '  So  ought  men  to  love  their  wives  as  their  own 
bodies;'  and  the  Hebrew  expression  is  the  same  in  all  other  places  : 
*  Let  him  love  his  neighbour  as  his  own  body.'  And  must  he  now 
love  every  one  with  those  singular  respects  and  proportions  of  affection 
that  he  beareth  to  himself  and  his  wife  ? 

I  answer — The  strictness  of  the  precept  should  not  amaze  us.  Christ 
raiseth  it  one  peg  higher :  John  xiii.  34,  '  I  have  given  you  a  com 
mandment,  that  as  I  have  loved  you,  so  ye  should  love  one  another.' 
There  is  another  manner  of  pattern  :  Christ's  love  was  intense,  and 
the  measure  of  it  beyond  the  conceit  of  our  thoughts  :  Yet  as  I  love, 
so  must  ye  love  one  another. 

But  for  the  opening  of  this  matter,  I  shall  first  show  you,  Who  is 
your  neighbour  ;  secondly.  What  kind  of  love  is  required  to  him. 

First,  Who  is  your  neighbour  ? — a  question  necessary  to  be  pro 
pounded.  It  was  propounded  to  Christ  himself  :  Luke  x.  29,  '  Who 
is  my  neighbour?'  The  solution  may  be  gathered  out  of  Christ's 
answer.  First,  In  the  general,  every  man  to  whom  I  may  be  helpful ; 
and  the  term  neighbour  is  used  because  our  charity  is  most  exercised 
and  drawn  out  to  those  that  are  near  us,  the  objects  that  are  about  us. 
But  it  must  not  be  confined  there  :  for  Christ  proves  that  a  stranger 
may  be  a  neighbour,  Luke  x.  36.  All  people  that  have  the  face  of  a  man 
are  called  '  our  flesh,'  Isa.  Iviii.  7,  and  '  one  blood,'  Acts  xvii.  26 — *  one 
blood,'  cousins  at  a  remoter  distance.  Any  man  is  a  neighbour  in 
regard  of  the  nearness  of  our  first  original,  and  as  he  is  capable  of 
the  same  glory  and  blessedness  which  we  expect ;  and  so  a  stranger, 
an  enemy,  may  be  a  neighbour  by  the  gospel  rules,  and  an  object  of 
such  love  as  we  bear  unto  ourselves,  we  being  bound  to  desire  his 
good,  by  virtue  of  his  manhood,  as  we  would  our  own.  Secondly, 
There  are  more  especial  neighbours,  who  dwell  about  us,  and  are 
more  frequent  with  us,  whose  necessities  must  provoke  us  to  more 
acts  and  expressions  of  love  ;  and  as  they  are  more  or  less  near  unto 
us,  so  are  we  to  proportion  our  love  to  them :  those  that  dwell  with 
us  before  strangers.  Thus  the  Hebrews  preferred  the  men  of  their 
own  nation  before  the  Grecians  '  in  the  daily  ministration,'  Acts  vi. 
And  then  our  kindred,  and  those  of  our  family,  before  a  common 
neighbour ;  as  the  apostle  saith,  1  Tim.  v.  8,  '  If  any  man  provideth 
not  for  his  own,  he  hath  denied  the  faith,  and  is  worse  than  an  infidel.' 
He  speaks  upon  the  case  of  showing  pity  at  home.  And  then  our 
children  are  in  the  next  rank  before  them ;  and  the  wife  of  the  bosom 
before  them  all :  and  accordingly  must  all  acts  of  bounty  and  pro 
vision  be  dispensed.  Thirdly,  There  are  spiritual  neighbours,  and 
they  are  those  who  are  begotten  by  the  same  Spirit  to  the  same  hopes, 
who  are  to  have  a  special  preferment  in  our  affection ;  I  mean,  in  that 
kind  of  affection  which  is  proper  to  Christianity  :  and  for  all  outward 
acts  of  bounty  and  love,  they  are  to  have  the  pre-eminence,  our  children 
and  families  only  excepted,  which,  by  the  law  of  nature,  in  this  case 
are  to  be  looked  upon  as  a  part  of  ourselves :  Gal.  vi.  10,  '  As  we 
have  opportunity,  let  us  do  good  to  all  men ;  especially  to  the  house 
hold  of  faith.'  In  short,  in  the  love  of  bounty,  the  poor  and  necessitous 

JAS.  II.  8.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  209 

man  is  the  special  neighbour ;  in  the  love  of  delight,  the  godly  man 
is  to  have  the  preferment :  *  My  delights  are  to  the  excellent  of  the 
earth,'  Ps.  xvi.  2.  Which  also  is  Bernard's  determination,  Meliori 
major  affectus,  indigentiori  major  effectus,  tribuendus  est — the  best 
must  have  most  of  our  affection,  the  poorest  most  of  our  bounty : 
Luke  xiv.  12-14,  '  When  thou  makest  a  feast,  call  not  thy  rich  neigh 
bours/  &c.  He  doth  not  condemn  honest  courtesies,  but  reproveth  the 
Pharisees'  error,  who  thought  by  these  things  to  satisfy  the  command 
ment;  just  as  these  did  here  in  the  text,  who  would  seem  to  make  that 
an  act  of  charity  which  was  but  an  act  of  covetousness,  and  called  that 
love  which  was  base  servility  and  compliance  :  and  we  still  see  that 
many  esteem  that  Christian  communion  which  is  indeed  but  a  carnal 
visit,  and  pretend  courtesy  to  excuse  charity. 

Secondly,  What  kind  of  love  is  required  in  this  expression,  we  are 
to  love  them  as  ourselves  ?  I  answer — The  expression  showeth  the 
manner  of  our  love,  not  the  measure  of  it ;  a  parity  and  likeness  for 
kind,  not  for  proportion.  It  cannot  be  understood  in  the  same 
degree,  partly  because  in  some  cases  a  man  is  bound  to  love  his 
neighbour  more  than  himself ;  as  1  John  iii.  16,  '  We  ought  to  lay 
down  our  lives  for  the  brethren/  my  single  life  to  save^the  whole 
community.  And  so  we  ought  to  help  on  one  another's  spiritual  good 
with  the  loss  of  our  temporal :  we  may  expose  ourselves  to  uncertain 
danger  to  hinder  another's  certain  danger.  The  apostle  Paul,  in  a 
glorious  excess  of  charity,  could  prefer  the  common  good  of  the  salva 
tion  of  all  the  Jews  before  the  particular  salvation  of  his  own  soul : 
Kom.  ix.  3,  '  I  could  wish  that  myself  were  accursed  from  Christ,  for 
my  brethren  and  kinsmen  according  to  the  flesh  ; '  and  Moses,  for  the 
general  safety  of  Israel,  could  wish  himself  to  be  '  blotted  out  of  God's 
book/  Exod.  xxxii.  Cases  may  happen  wherein  a  public  good  may  be 
more  considerable,  and  better  in  itself,  than  my  particular  happiness  ; 
and  then  in  self-denial  I  am  bound  to  love  others  better  than  myself. 
And  partly  because,  on  the  other  hand,  in  ordinary  cases  it  is  impos 
sible  I  should  be  as  strongly  moved,  or  as  industriously  active,  in 
another  man's  case  as  I  would  in  my  own ;  therefore,  as  I  said,  the 
rule  intendeth  the  kind  of  affection,  and  the  way  of  it ;  that  is,  with 
what  mind  and  in  what  course  I  should  pursue  the  good  of  others — 
with  the  same  heart  and  in  the  same  way  I  would  mine  own ;  and 
chiefly  aimeth  at  the  prevention  of  a  double  evil  usual  among  men — 
self-love  and  injury :  self-love,  when  men  out  of  the  privacy  and 
narrowness  of  their  spirits,  only  '  mind  their  own  things ; '  and  injury, 
when  men  care  not  how  they  deal  with  others.  First,  It  preventeth 
self-love  by  pressing  us — (1.)  To  mind  the  good  of  others :  1  Cor. 
x.  24,  '  Let  no  man  seek  his  own,  but  each  man  another's  wealth/ 
their  comfort  and  contentment,  by  all  offices  of  humanity  suitable  and 
convenient  to  their  necessities ;  especially  to  promote  their  spiritual 
good,  labouring  to  procure  it,  praying  for  them,  though  they  be 
enemies,  as  David  fasted  for  his  enemies,  Ps.  xxxv.  But  alas  !  this 
love  is  quite  decayed  in  these  last  ages  of  the  world.  ^They  are 
mightily  infamed  in  the  scriptures  for  self-seeking,  2  Tim.  iii.  2.  One 
said,1  The  world  was  once  destroyed,  propter  ardorem  cnpidinis,  with 

1  Ludolphus  de  Vita  Christi. 
VOL.  IV.  ° 


water  for  the  heat  of  lust ;  and  it  will  be  again  destroyed,  propter 
teporem  charitatis,  with  fire  for  the  coldness  of  love.  These  duties 
are  quite  out  of  date  and  use.  (2.)  To  niind  their  good  really,  as 
truly,  though  not  as  much.  The  apostle  saith,  '  Let  love  be  without 
dissimulation ; '  and  St  John  speaketh  often  of  '  loving  in  truth/ 
Though  we  are  not  every  way  as  earnest,  yet  we  must  be  as  real  in 
promoting  their  good  as  our  own,  without  any  self-end  and  reflections 
upon  our  own  advantage  and  profit.  Secondly,  It  preventeth  injury, 
by  directing  us  to  deal  with  others  as  we  would  have  them  to  deal 
with  ourselves ;  wishing  them  no  more  hurt  than  we  would  wish  our 
own  souls :  I  mean,  when  we  are  in  our  right  reason,  and  self-love  is 
regular  ;  hiding  their  defects  and  infirmities  as  you  would  your  own  ; 
pardoning  their  offences  as  you  desire  God  should  do  yours  ;  and  in 
all  contracts  and  acts  of  converse  putting  your  souls  in  their  stead. 
Would  I  be  thus  dealt  with  ?  If  I  had  my  own  choice,  would  not  I 
be  otherwise  used  ?  In  all  our  commerce  it  is  good  to  make  frequent 
appeals  to  our  consciences:  Would  I  have  this  measure  measured 
unto  my  own  soul  ? 

And  thus  I  have  opened  the  great  rule  of  all  commerce,  '  Love  thy 
neighbour  as  thyself ;'  whose  intent  is,  as  I  said,  partly  to  prevent 
self-love,  by  showing  we  must  do  others  good  as  well  as  ourselves  ; 
and  partly  to  prevent  injury,  that  we  may  do  others  no  more  evil  than 
we  do  ourselves. 

Ver.  9.  But  if  ye  have  respect  to  persons,  ye  commit  sin,  and  are 
convinced  of  the  laic  as  transgressors. 

Here  is  the  second  part  of  the  apostle's  answer.  In  the  former  part 
there  was  the  concession,  'Ye  do  well/  if  you  give  this  respect  in 
obedience  to  the  law  :  but  here  is  the  correction ;  you  give  it  contrary 
to  the  direction  of  the  law,  and  so  it  is  not  a  duty,  but  a  sin. 

But  if  ye  have  respect  to  persons  ;  that  is,  if,  in  distributing  the 
honours  and  censures  of  the  church,  you  judge  altogether  according  to 
men's  outward  quality  and  condition,  as  before  was  cleared — 

Ye  commit  sin  ;  that  is,  it  is  not  a  duty,  as  you  pretend,  but  a  sin ; 
and,  whatever  you  think,  the  law,  which  is  the  rule  of  Christ's  process, 
will  find  you  guilty. 

And  are  convinced  of  the  law. — This  may  be  understood,  either 
generally,  that,  whatever  their  pretences  were,  yet  the  law  would  find 
them  out,  and  distinguish  their  unjust  partiality  from  a  necessary  re 
spect  ;  or  else,  more  especially,  it  may  be  understood  of  the  law  which 
they  urged,  ;  Love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself ;'  which  required  an  equai 
respect  to  the  neighbour,  however  distinguished,  whether  rich  or  poor ; 
or  else  the  apostle  intendeth  the  law  against  respect  of  persons :  Lev. 
xix.  15,  '  Thou  shalt  do  no  unrighteousness  in  judgment ;  thou  shalt 
not  respect  the  person  of  the  poor,  nor  the  person  of  the  mighty ;  but 
in  righteousness  shalt  thou  judge  thy  neighbour.'  To  which  place  I 
suppose  the  apostle  almdeth,  because  it  is  so  fair  for  his  purpose,  and 
because  in  that  context  the  general  of  love  to  the  neighbour  is  re 
peated,  see  ver.  18  ;  and  in  that  the  Septuagint  have  the  very  same 
words  which  the  apostle  useth  in  ver.  8. 

As  transgressors.— c/2?,  the  word  in  the  original  for  os,implieth reality,1 

1  '  Veritatem,  non  similitudinem.' — Laurent,  in  locum. 

JAS.  II.  9.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  211 

not  only  similitude  and  likeness  ;  that  is,  that  you  are  indeed  trans 
gressors.  I  do  the  rather  note  it  for  the  opening  of  a  like  expression 
in  a  matter  important  and  weighty  ;  it  is  in  John  i.  14,  *  We  saw  his 
glory,  as  the  glory  of  the  only-begotten  Son  of  God  ;'  that  is,  not  like 
the  glory  of  the  Son  of  God,  but  that  he  was  indeed  so. 

Little  is  to  be  observed  out  of  this  verse,  because  the  matter  of  it  is 
handled  in  the  context.  Only  note : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  word  and  rule  discovereth  wickedness  when  our 
blind  consciences  do  not.  Conscience  hath  but  a  weak  light,  and 
that  light  is  partial:  'Favour  thyself  is  the  language  of  corrupt 
nature  ;  and,  therefore,  that  we  may  not  be  injurious  to  our  own  quiet, 
deluded  conscience  is  apt  to  mistake  every  pretence  for  duty,  and  the 
outward  work  of  every  duty  for  the  power  and  life  of  it ;  therefore  the 
apostle  saith  of  the  heathens,  that  had  but  a  little  light,  that  they 
only  minded  epyov  vb^ov,  '  the  work  of  the  law/  Kom.  ii.  14  ;  that  is, 
the  external  matter  of  the  commandment.  Nay,  those  that  have  more 
light  are  every  way  as  unfaithful  in  the  use  of  it.  Paul  rested  con 
tented  with  his  pharisaism  and  outward  righteousness,  till,  by  a  serious 
application  of  the  rule,  he  found  that  to  be  a  merit  of  death  which  he 
had  formerly  reckoned  upon  as  a  plea  for  life.  That  I  suppose  he 
intendeth  when  he  sayeth,  '  I  was  alive  without  the  law,  but  the  com 
mandment  coming,  I  died,'  Kom.  vii.  9.  Well,  then,  we  see  we  have 
need  to  attend  upon  the  word,  and  consult  with  the  law,  not  the 
crooked  rule  of  our  own  consciences. 

Obs.  2.  It  is  but  a  crafty  pretence  when  one  part  of  the  law  is 
pleaded  to  excuse  obedience  to  another  ;  for  when  we  pick  and  choose, 
we  do  not  fulfil  God's  will,  but  our  own.1  These  pretended  submis 
sive  respect  to  the  rich,  as  due  by  the  law,  but  forgot  those  other  pre 
cepts  that  established  a  duty  to  the  poor.  Conscience  must  be  satisfied 
with  something ;  therefore  men  usually  please  themselves  in  so  much 
of  obedience  as  is  least  contrary  to  their  interests  and  inclinations,  and 
have  not  an  entire  uniform  respect  to  the  whole  law.  It  is  as  if  a  ser 
vant  should  think  himself  dutiful  when  he  goeth  to  a  feast  or  a  fair 
when  his  master  biddeth  him ;  when,  in  the  meantime,  he  declineth 
errands  of  less  trouble,  but  of  more  service :  whereas  in  such  matters 
he  doth  not  obey  his  master's  will,  but  his  own  inclination.  So  in 
commands  easy  and  compliant  with  our  own  humours  and  designs,  we 
do  not  so  much  serve  God  as  our  own  interests ;  and  there  is  more  of 
design  than  of  duty  and  religion  in  such  actions ;  and,  therefore,  they 
lose  their  reward  with  God.  As  to  instance  in  a  matter  suitable  to 
the  context,  God  hath  required  that  persons  should  be  hospitable  and 
harborous.  Now  men  of  a  social  nature  will  soon  hear  in  that  ear,  and 
think  themselves  liberal  and  bountiful  because  they  spend  much  in 
festivity  and  entertainment,  or  in  feasting  with  their  rich  neighbours ; 
whereas  little  or  nothing  is  done  out  of  a  well-tempered  charity,  and 
in  refreshing  the  poor  members  of  Christ.  Now  this  is  no  more  ac 
cepted  of  God  than  the  offering  of  a  dog's  head  in  sacrifice  ;  because 
all  this  is  but  a  lust  fed  and  served  under  a  pretence  of  religion — 
joviality  under  the  disguise  of  Christian  charity  and  bounty ;  and, 

'  Qui  facit  solummodo  ea  quae  vult  facere,  non  dominicam  voluntatem  implet,  sed 
suam.' — Salman. 

212  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  10. 

therefore  the  apostle  maketh  entertainments  to  he  hut '  sowing  to  the 
flesh/  Gal.  vi.  8  ;  for  I  suppose  the  drift  of  that  context  is  to  distinguish 
between  what  is  spent  in  charity  and  luxury :  and  in  the  process  of 
the  last  day  (described  Mat.  xxv.),  Christ  doth  not  ask  what  thou  hast 
done  to  the  rich,  but  to  his  poor  members— to  the  hungry,  the  naked, 
&c.  Well,  then,  beware  of  such  a  partial,  disproportionate  obedience. 
Hypocrites  use  to  divide  between  the  tables — between  duty  to  God  and 
duty  to  man ;  and  in  the  respects  due  to  man  they  are  swayed  more  by 
their  own  humours  and  interests  than  the  true  motives  of  obedience ;  and, 
therefore,  though  they  usually  exceed  in  their  duty  and  submission  to 
the  rich,  yet  they  neglect  if  not  contemn  the  poor,  either  in  their  suf 
frages  and  elections  to  ecclesiastical  honours  and  offices,  or  in  acts  of 
judicature,  or  in  duties  of  private  charity,  in  visits  and  entertain 
ments  ;  which  respect  of  persons  our  apostle  justly  disproveth,  taxing 
it  for  a  transgression,  and  not  a  duty. 

Ver.  10.  For  whosoever  shall  keep  the  whole  laiv,  and  yet  offend  in 
one  point,  is  guilty  of  all. 

The  connection  between  this  verse  and  the  former  is  this :  They 
had  pleaded  that  their  respect  of  the  rich  was  but  a  necessary  civility, 
and  a  duty  of  the  law ;  or,  at  least,  that  it  was  but  a  small  offence, 
such  as  might  be  excused  by  their  innocent  intention,  and  obedience 
in  other  things,  which  was  an  opinion  rife  in  those  days  ;  and  that 
some  i  make  to  the  occasion  of  this  sentence,  that  the  apostle  might 
disprove  that  conceit  which  was  then  so  common,  that  obedience  in  some 
things  did  make  amends  for  their  neglect  and  disobedience  in  other 
things.  That  the  conceit  was  common  appeareth  by  several  passages 
of  Christ  and  the  apostles.  Our  Saviour  chargeth  it  often  upon  the 
Pharisees.  Ben  Maimon,  in  his  treatise  of  repentance,  hath  such  a 
passage  as  this  is :  '  Every  one/  saith  he,  '  hath  his  merits  and  his 
sins.  He  whose  merits  are  equal  to  2  his  sins,  he  is  tzadoc^  the  right 
eous  man ;  he  whose  sins  are  greater  than  his  merits,  he  is  rashang, 
the  wicked  man ;  but  where  the  sins  and  the  merits  are  equal,  he 
is  the  middle  man,  partly  happy,  and  partly  miserable.'  This  was 
the  sum  of  the  Jewish  doctrine  in  the  more  corrupt  tim&s;  and 
some  think  the  apostle  might  meet  with  this  error  in  this  verse,  by 
showing  that  the  least  breach  rendered  a  man  obnoxious  to  the 
danger  of  the  violation  of  the  whole  law.  Kather,  I  suppose,  it  lieth 
thus :  They  satisfied  themselves  with  half  duty,  using  over-much  observ 
ance  to  the  rich,  and  to  the  poor  nothing  at  all.  He  had  before  said,  et 
vofjiov  reXetre  j3a<ri\i/cov,  '  If  ye  fulfil,  or  perfect,  the  royal  law/  Now, 
they  minded  that  part  of  it  that  was  advantageous  to  them  ;  it  was 
not  full  or  perfect  obedience  to  cut  off  so  much  of  duty  as  was  less 
profitable  :  therefore  the  law  convinced  them  '  as  transgressors.'  The 
royal  law  saith,  '  Thou  shalt  love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself  ; '  and  man 
is  not  to  make  such  exceptions  as  please  him  best,  to  defalcate  and  cut 
off  such  a  considerable  part  of  duty  at  his  own  pleasure.  God  saith, 
'  thy  neighbour ; '  and  I  must  not  say,  '  my  rich  neighbour  only/ 
There  must  be  an  even  and  adequate  care  to  comply  with  the  whole 
will  of  God,  or  else  it  is  not  obedience,  but  you  are  in  the  danger  of 
transgressors.  This  hint  maketh  much  for  the  opening  of  the  verse, 

1  See  Camero,  the  last  edition  of  his  works  in  folio,  p.  170.    2  Qu.  '  Greater  than '  ?— ED. 

JAS.  II.  10.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  213 

a  place  in  itself  difficult.  Augustine l  consulted  with  Jerome  about 
the  sense  of  it  in  a  long  epistle ;  and,  indeed,  at  the  first  view,  the 
sentence  seemeth  harsh  and  rough.  I  shall  first  open  the  phrases, 
remove  false  inferences  from  it,  and  then  establish  the  true  notes  and 
observations,  that  this  scripture  may  have  its  due  and  proper  force 
upon  the  conscience. 

Whosoever  shall  keep  the  ivliole  law. — He  speaketh  upon  supposition. 
Suppose  a  man  should  be  exact  in  all  other  points  of  the  law,  which 
yet  is  impossible,  we  may  suppose  things  that  never  shall  be.  Or  else 
he  speaketh  according  to  their  pretences  and  presumptions.  They 
supposed  they  were  not  to  be  taxed  or  convinced  as  transgressors  in 
any  other  matter :  grant  it,  saith  the  apostle  ;  or  else  he  speaketh  of 
the  whole  of  this  commandment,  '  Thou  shalt  love  thy  neighbour/ 
&c.  Suppose  your  duty  to  rich  men,  and  where  it  may  make  for  your 
advantage,  be  whole  and  entire. 

Yet  {f  he  offend  in  one  point. — Willingly,  constantly,  and  with 
allowance  from  conscience  ;  with  thought  of  merit  and  excuse,  because 
of  his  obedience  in  other  matters. 

He  is  guilty  of  all. — Liable  to  the  same  punishment,  standeth  upon 
the  same  terms  of  hope  and  acceptance  with  God,  as  if  he  had  done 
nothing.  A  man  may  violate  totam  legem  though  not  totum  legis  ;  sin 
against  the  dignity  and  authority  of  the  whole  law,  though  he  doth  not 
actually  break  every  part  of  it.  Ay !  but  you  will  say,  as  the  apostles, 
Mat.  xix.,  '  Who  then  can  be  saved  ?  '  Here  is  a  terrible  sentence  that 
will  much  discourage  God's  little  ones,  who  are  conscious  to  themselves 
of  their  daily  failings.  I  answer — That  which  the  apostle  aimeth  at  is 
the  discovery  of  hypocrites,  not  the  discouragement  of  saints.  As  Zuin- 
glius,  when  he  had  flashed  the  thunder  and  lightning  of  God  in  the 
face  of  sinners,  he  was  wont  to  come  in  with  this  proviso,  Bone  Chris- 
tiane,  haic  nihil  ad  te — poor  Christian,  this  is  not  spoken  tothee.  So 
this  is  not  spoken  to  discourage  God's  children,  however  it  may  be  of 
use  to  them  to  make  them  more  humble,  cautious,  and  watchful,  as 
lions  will  tremble  when  dogs  are  beaten.  To  clear  the  place,  before  I 
come  to  lay  down  the  notes,  I  shall,  according  to  promise,  remove  the 
false  inferences.  (1.)  You  cannot  conclude  hence  that  all  sins  are 
equal.  They  are  all  damning,  not  all  alike  damning.  Some  guilt 
may  be  more  heinous,  but  all  is  deadly.  And  that  is  it  which  James 
asserteth :  he  saith,  'he  is  guilty  of  all,'  but  not  equally  guilty.  The 
apostle  would  infer  an  equality  of  care  and  respect  to  the  whole  law, 
but  not  an  equality  of  sin.  All  that  can  be  collected  is  this,  that  one 
allowed,  wilful,  deliberate  breach  and  violation  forfeiteth  our  right 
eousness,  and  maketh  us  become  obnoxious  to  the  curse  of  the  whole 
law,  and  the  sinner  shall  no  less  die  than  if  he  had  broken  all  by  an 
actual  transgression.  So  that,  although  all  allowed  sins  deserve 
death,  yet  there  is  a  difference  still  remaining  in  the  several  degrees 
of  guilt  and  the  curse.  (2.)  You  cannot  hence  conclude  that  total 
rebellion  is  simply,  and  in  itself,  better  than  formal  profession.  Christ 
loved  the  man  for  the  good  things  that  were  in  him  from  his  youth, 
and  telleth  him,  '  Thou  art  not  far  from  the  kingdom  of  God.'  We 
read  of  greater  sins,  and  more  intolerable  judgment.  Good  moral 

1  Aug.  Retract.,  lib.  ii.  cap.  45  ;  et  Epist.  102  adEvodium  ;  et  Epist.  29  ad  Hieron. 

214  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  IT.  10. 

heathens  may  have  a  cooler  hell.  (3.)  You  cannot  apply  it  to  them 
whose  care  of  obedience  is  universal,  though  the  success  be  not 
answerable :  Ps.  cxix.  6,  '  Then  shall  I  not  be  ashamed  when  I  have 
respect  to  all  thy  commandments ; '  not  when  I  have  observed,  but 
when  I  have  respect.  Gracious  hearts  look  to  all,  when  they  cannot 
accomplish  all ;  and  upon  every  known  defect  and  failing  they  humble 
themselves,  and  seek  mercy.  It  doth  not  exclude  them,  for  then  it 
would  exclude  all.  But  when  men  allow  and  please  themselves  in  a 
partial  obedience,  without  fore-care,  present-striving,  and  after-grief, 
they  come  under  the  terror  of  this  sentence.  God  will  dispense  with 
none  that  can  dispense  with  themselves  in  any  known  failing.  (4.) 
You  must  not  urge  this  sentence  to  the  exclusion  of  the  comforts  of 
the  gospel,  and  the  hopes  that  we  have  by  the  grace  of  God  in  Christ : 
for  this  sentence  in  itself  is  legal,  the  very  rigour  of  the  law,  and  such 
sayings  brook  the  exceptions  of  repentance  and  free  grace :  for  the 
rigour  of  the  law  can  only  take  place  on  those  that  are  under  the  bond 
of  it,  and  are  not  freed  by  Christ.  That  this  is  the  voice  of  the  law  is 
plain,  because  it  consenteth  with  that  sum  and  tenor  of  it  which  is 
laid  down  Deut.  xxvii.  26,  '  Cursed  is  every  one  that  continueth  not 
in  all  the  words  of  this  law  to  do  them.'  If  they  failed  but  in  a  cir 
cumstance,  in  a  ceremony,  they  were  under  the  power  of  the  curse.  So 
the  apostle  urgeth  it.  Gal.  iii.  10,  '  As  many  as  are  under  the  works  of 
the  law,  are  under  the  curse  ;  for  cursed  is  he  that  continueth  not  in  all 
things  to  do  them/  Now  Christ  hath  redeemed  all  those  that  have  in 
terest  in  him  from  this  curse,  by  being  (as  the  apostle  saith  there,  ver.  13) 
'  made  a  curse  for  us ;'  so  that  there  is  a  remedy  in  Christ,  of  which 
we  are  possessed  by  faith  and  repentance.  And  let  it  not  seem  strange 
to  any  that  I  say  the  sentence  is  legal,  for  many  of  that  nature  are 
here  and  there  intermixed  and  scattered  throughout  the  gospel,  because 
they  are  of  excellent  use  and  service  for  gospel  ends  and  purposes :  as 
to  convince  hypocrites,  whose  obedience  is  always  partial;  to  drive 
men  to  the  grace  revealed  in  the  gospel ;  and  for  the  guidance  and 
rule  of  Christians,  that  they  may  know  the  whole  will  of  God.  For 
though  we  are  freed  from  the  rigour  of  the  law,  yet  we  ought  to  look 
to  the  whole  rule,  and,  as  much  as  in  us  lieth,  to  strive,  f^rj  Trraiew  eV 
evl,  not  to  offend  in  one  point  and  tittle,  not  to  rest  in  their  imperfec 
tions,  but  to  strive  against  them.  Christ  hath  again  revived  this 
strictness :  Mat.  v.  19,  '  Whosoever  shall  break  one  of  these  command 
ments,  and  teach  men  to  do  so,  shall  be  least  in  the  kingdom  of  God  ;' 
that  is,  shall  not  be  owned  for  a  gospel  minister.  Christ  is  chary  of 
his  least  saints  and  least  commandments.  Though  there  be  a  pardon, 
of  course,  for  infirmities  and  failings,  yet  Christ  hath  not  abated  any 
thing  of  the  strictness  of  the  law.  The  Pharisees  thought  that  some 
commandments  were  little  and  arbitrary;  and  therefore  the  lawyer 
came  to  Christ :  Mat.  xxii.  36,  *  Master,  which  is  the  great  command 
ment  in  the  law  ? '  It  is  true,  some  duties  are  more  excellent ;  but 
the  question  was  propounded  according  the  mind  of  the  Pharisees, 
who  accounted  outward  devotionary  acts  most  singular,  and  their  own 
traditions  weighty  things ;  now  he  cometh  to  see  if  Christ  liked  the 
distribution.  (5.)  You  must  not  urge  this  sentence  to  pervert  the 
order  of  the  commandments ;  as  if  a  man,  in  committing  theft,  com- 

JAS.  II.  10.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  215 

mitted  adultery ;  and  in  committing  adultery,  he  committed  murder. 
It  is  notable  the  apostle  doth  not  say,  '  He  transgresseth  all,'  but  '  he 
is  guilty  of  all/  The  precepts  are  not  to  be  taken  disjunctim,  but 
conjunctim  and  completive ;  not  severally,  but  altogether,  as  they 
make  one  entire  law  and  rule  of  righteousness,  the  contempt  reflect 
ing  upon  the  whole  law  when  it  is  wilfully  violated  in  one  part ;  as  he 
that  wrongeth  one  member,  wrongeth  the  whole  man  or  body  of  which 
it  is  a  part.  The  text  being  vindicated,  I  shall  sum  up  the  whole 
verse  into  one  observation,  which  is  : — 

Obs.  That  voluntary  and  allowed  neglects  of  any  part  of  the  law 
make  us  guilty  of  the  violation  of  the  whole  law.  Many  reasons 
might  be  urged  to  mollify  the  seeming  asperity  and  rigour  of  the 
point ;  as  partly  because  the  contempt  of  the  same  authority  is  mani 
fested  in  the  breach  of  one  as  well  as  of  all :  all  the  commands  are 
equal  in  regard  of  God ;  they  are  all  ratified  by  the  same  authority, 
which  man  contemneth  when  he  maketh  his  own  will  the  measure  of 
obedience ;  and  partly  because  the  same  curse  is  deserved,  which,  when 
neglects  are  voluntary,  taketh  place ;  partly  because  the  law  is  but 
one  copulation,  like  a  chain  which  is  dissolved  by  the  loosening  of  one 
link ;  partly  because  all  sin  proceedeth  from  the  same  corruption : 
the  least  sin  is  contrary  to  love,  as  well  as  the  least  drop  of  water  to 
fire  j1  partly  because  amongst  men  it  is  counted  equal :  one  condition 
not  observed  forfeiteth  the  whole  lease ;  and  partly  because  one  sin 
cere  duty  hath  much  promised  to  it,  and  therefore  one  sin  hath  its 
proportionable  guilt.  True  love  is  called  a  *  fulfilling  of  the  wholo 
law/  Kom.  xiii.  8.  And,  in  God's  account,  he  that  sincerely  repenteth 
of  one  sin,  repenteth  of  all.  And  so,  on  the  contrary,  one  allowed  sin 
is  virtually  a  violation  of  the  whole  law ;  and,  therefore,  when  some 
went  to  gather  manna  on  the  Sabbath  day,  God  said,  Exod.  xvi.  28, 
'  How  long  will  ye  refuse  to  keep  my  commandments  and  my  laws  ? ' 
implying  that  in  the  breach  of  that  one  they  had  broken  all. 

There  are  many  uses  of  this  note :  because  they  are  of  profit  and 
concernment  to  you,  in  the  right  application  of  this  place,  I  shall  give 
them  you  in  their  order. 

1.  It  showeth  how  tender  we  should  be  of  every  command:  wilful 
violation  amounteth  to  a  total  neglect ;  therefore,  as  wisdom  adviseth, 
Prov.  vii.  2,  '  Keep  my  law  as  the  apple  of  thine  eye/     The  least 
dust  offendeth  the  eye ;  and  so  the  law  is  a  tender  thing,  and  soon 
wronged.     Lest  you  forfeit  all  your  righteousness  at  once,  it  is  good 
to  be  careful. 

2.  That  partial  obedience  is  an  argument  of  insincerity.     When 
we  neglect  duties  that  either  thwart  carnal  desires  or  prejudice  carnal 
concernments,  we  do  not  please  God,  but  ourselves.     We  are  to  walk 
'  in  all  God's  statutes/  Luke  i.  6.     David  fulfilled  irdvra  ra  QeXtffiara, 
'  all  the  wills  of  God/  Acts  xiii.  22. 

3.  That  it  is  a  vain  deceit  to  excuse  defects  of  one  duty  by  care  of 
another.     Sometimes  men  ante-date,  sometimes  they  post-date,  an 
indulgence.     They  ante-date  it  when  they  sin  upon  a  presumption 
they  shall  make  amends  by  repentance,  or  that  their  future  good 
deeds  shall  be  a  sufficient  expiation  or  satisfaction.     They  post-date 

1  *  Contra  earn  charitatem  facit,  in  qua  pendent  omnia.' — Aug.  Epist.  29. 

216  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  10. 

it  when,  from  duties  already  done,  they  take  liberty  or  an  occasion  to 
sin  the  more  freely :  Ezek.  xxxiii.  13,  '  If  he  trust  to  his  righteous 
ness,  and  commit  iniquity/  that  is,  if,  upon  that  occasion  of  right 
eousness  so  done,  called,  or  thought  to  be  so  in  his  apprehension,  he 
shall  adventure  upon  sin,  the  doom  is,  '  he  shall  die  the  death/  We 
see  many  men's  hearts  grow  loose  and  vain  after  duties,  and  they  are 
the  more  presumptuous  and  careless  out  of  a  vain  conceit  that  super- 
erogating  in  some  things  will  excuse  obedience  in  others. 

4.  That  upon  any  particular  failing  we  ought  to  renew  our  peace 
with  God.     I  have  done  that  now  which  will  make  me  guilty  of  the 
whole  law ;  therefore,  soul,  run  to  thy  advocate :  1  John  ii.  1,  *  If  any 
man  sin,  we  have  an  advocate  with  the  Father,  Jesus  Christ  the 
righteous.'     Oh  !  go  to  Christ  that  he  may  sue  out   your   pardon ; 
your  hearts  are  not  right  with  God  if  you  do  not  use  this  course : 
after  daily  transgressions  sue  out  a  daily  pardon.     The  children  of 
God  are  like  fountains ;  when  mud  is  stirred  up  they  do  not  leave  till 
they  can  get  themselves  clear  again.     Particular   sins   must  have 
particular  applications  of  grace,  for  in  themselves,  in  their  own  merit, 
they  leave  you  under  a  curse.     It  is  good  to  deprecate  it,  as  David 
doth,  Ps.  vi.  1,  '0  Lord,  rebuke  me  not  in  thine  anger/  &c. 

5.  That   we   must  not  only  regard  the  work  of  duty,  but  all  the 
circumstances  of  it ;  and  so  proportionably,  not  only  the  acts  of  sin, 
but   the   vicious    motions    and    inclinations    of    it.     One   point  is 
dangerous.     The  Pharisees  were  for  external  duties,  and  the  avoid 
ing  of  gross  sins,  but  securely  allowed  themselves  in  sins  more  hidden, 
which  yet  are  of  a  dangerous  consequence.     Malice  is  murder  ;  and 
thereupon  John  saith,  1  John  iii.  15,  '  No  murderer  hath,  eternal  life/ 
And  lust  is  adultery,  Mat.  v.  28 ;  a  look,  a  glance,  a  thought,  a 
desire,  is  in  itself  damnable,  and  brooketh  only  the  exception  of  the 
divine  grace. 

6.  That  former  profession  will  do  no  good  in  case  there  be  a  total 
revolt  afterward.     A  little  poison  in  a  cup,  and  one  leak  in  a  ship, 
may  ruin  all.     A  man  may  ride  right  for  a  long  time,  but  one  turn  in 
the  end  of  the  journey  may  bring  him  quite  out  of  the  way.     Gideon 
had  seventy  sons,  and  but  one  bastard,  and  yet  that  bastard  destroyed 
all  the  rest,  Judges  viii.    It  is  said,  Eccles.  ix.  18,  '  One  sinner  destroy- 
eth  much  good/     Once  a  sinner,  all  is  lost ;  the  ancients  expound  it 
that  way.     So   Ezek.   xxxiii.    13,    '  All   his  righteousness   shall   be 
forgotten  ; '  that  is,  all  will  be  to  no  purpose.     As  the  sins  of  one  that 
repenteth  are  carried  into  a  land  of  darkness,  so  are  their  duties  who 

7.  That  the  smallness  of  sin  is  a  poor  excuse;  it  is  an  aggravation 
rather  than  an  excuse  :  it  is  the  more  sad,  that  we  should  stand  with 
God  for  a  trifle.     Luke  xvi.  21,  he  would  not  give  a  crumb,  and  this 
wonderfully  displeased  God  ;  he  did  not  receive  a  drop.     God's  judg 
ments  have  been  most  remarkable  when   the   occasion  was   least. 
Adam  was  cast  out  of  paradise  for  an  apple  ;  so  gathering  of  sticks  on 
the  Sabbath  day,  looking  into  the  ark,  &c.     God's  command  bindeth 
in  lesser  things  as  well  as  greater;  though  the  object  be  different,  the 
command  is   still  the    same :  '  I  tasted  but  a  little  honey  (saith 
Jonathan),  and  I  must  die/  1  Sam.  xiv.  43.     It  will  be  sad  to  you  to 

JAS.  II.  11.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  217 

go  to  hell  for  a  small  matter.  One  of  the  prophet's  aggravations  is, 
that  they  '  sold  the  righteous  for  a  pair  of  shoes,'  Amos  ii.  6.  Would 
you  contest  with  God  for  a  small  thing  and  of  little  consequence  ?  As 
it  is  imprudence,  so  it  is  unkindness. 

Ver.  11.  For  he  that  said,  Do  not  commit  adultery,  said  also,  Do 
not  kill.  Now  if  thou  commit  adultery,  yet  if  thou  do  not  kill,  thou 
art  become  a  transgressor  of  the  law. 

Here  is  a  proof  of  the  intent  of  the  former  sentence,  that  we  are  not 
to  look  to  the  matter  of  the  command,  how  it  complieth  with  our 
desires  and  interests,  but  to  the  authority  of  the  lawgiver.  He  giveth 
an  instance  in  the  sixth  and  seventh  commandments.  God,  that  hath 
said  one,  hath  said  both ;  they  are  precepts  of  the  same  law  and  law 
giver  ;  and  therefore,  in  the  violation  of  one  of  these  laws  the  authority 
of  the  law  is  violated. 

He  that  said,  Do  not  commit  adultery ;  that  is,  that  threatened 
adultery  with  death,  Deut.  xxii.  22,  threatened  also  murder  with 
death,  Lev.  xxiv.  17,  and  Deut.  xix.  13  ;  and  the  apostle  useth  that 
phrase  '  He  that  said,'  as  alluding  to  the  preface  of  the  law :  Exod. 
xx.  1,  '  God  spake  all  these  words,  saying.'  He  instancetli  in  such  sins 
as  are  not  only  digested  into  the  sum  of  the  moral  law,  but  are  more 
directly  against  the  light  of  nature,  that  so  his  argument  might 
be  the  more  strong  and  sensible  ;  which  is  to  be  noted,  lest  we  should 
think  that  only  a  uniformity  of  obedience  is  required  to  those  precepts 
that  forbid  sins  openly  gross  and  heinous. 

Out  of  these  words  observe  : — 

Obs.  1.  That  we  must  not  so  much  dispute  the  matter  of  the  com 
mand,  as  look  to  the  will  of  the  lawgiver.  He  proveth  that  the  whole 
law  had  an  equal  obligation  upon  the  conscience,  because  he  that  said 
the  one  said  the  other.  God's  will  is  motive  enough  to  obedience, 
1  Peter  ii.  15 ;  1  Thes.  iv.  3 ;  v.  18.  Every  sin  is  an  affront  to 
God's  sovereignty,  as  if  his  will  were  not  reason  enough  ;  and  to  his 
wisdom,  as  if  he  did  not  know  what  were  good  for  men ;  and  to  his 
justice,  as  if  the  ways  of  God  were  unequal.  When  your  hearts  stick 
at  any  duty,  shame  yourselves  with  these  considerations  :  It  is  a  trial 
of  sincerity ;  then  duty  is  well  done  when  it  is  done  intuitu  voluntatis, 
with  a  bare  sight  of  God's  will.  And  it  is  a  motive  to  universal 
obedience  j1  this  duty  is  required  as  well  as  other  duties,  and  enjoined 
by  the  same  will. 

Obs.  2.  Duties  and  sins  are  of  several  kinds,  according  to  the  several 
laws  of  God.  Man  hath  several  affections ;  every  one  must  have  a 
special  law  :  he  hath  several  essential  parts ;  God  giveth  laws  to  both  : 
he  is  disposed  to  several  providences,  which  needeth  a  distinct  rule ; 
he  is  under  several  relations  and  obligations  to  God,  which  call  for 
duties  of  a  different  nature  and  respect.  Well,  then,  be  not  contented, 
with  Herod,  to  '  hear  many  things,'  gladly  to  practise  somewhat.  He 
that  calleth  you  to  pray  calleth  you  to  hear,  to  redeem  time  for 
meditation  and  other  holy  purposes.  All  commands  are  equally 
commanded,  and  must  be  equally  observed.  And  be  not  secure, 
though  you  be  not  guilty  of  such  sins  as  are  reproved  in  others.  Other 
diseases  are  mortal  besides  the  plague :  though  you  are  not  for  the 

1  '  A  quatenus  ad  omue  valet  consequential 

218  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  12. 

farm,  you  may  be  for  the  merchandise :  though  thou  art  not  a  thief  or 
whore,  yet  thou  mayest  be  covetous  and  worldly.  There  is,  as  Hippo 
crates  said,  8t7rX77  navia,  a  double  madness — a  sober  madness  as  well 
as  a  trying.1  You  may  be  dead  in  sins,  though  not  dissolute ;  and 
though  the  life  may  be  gravely  ordered,  yet  the  heart  may  be  averse 
from  God.  The  Pharisee  could  say,  I  am  no  adulterer,  but  he  could 
not  say,  I  am  not  proud,  I  am  not  self-confident. 

Ver.  12.  So  speak  ye,  and  so  do,  as  they  that  shall  be  judged  by  the 
law  of  liberty. 

Out  of  the  whole  discourse  he  inferreth  a  seasonable  exhortation, 
that  they  would  order  their  speeches  and  actions  so  as  to  endure  the 
test  and  trial  of  the  law,  especially  in  the  matter  of  impartial  respects, 
because  commanded  by  an  impartial  law.  The  reason  of  it  lieth  thus: 
Those  that  would  be  judged  by  the  law  should  not  omit  the  least  part 
of  it.  But  you  desire  to  be  judged  by  the  moral  law,  evangelised  or 
made  a  '  law  of  liberty  ;'  in  which  term  he  hinteth  the  reinforcement 
of  the  duties  of  the  law  of  Moses  in  the  gospel,  which  doth  as  exactly 
require  a  care  in  our  speeches  and  actions  as  the  law ;  for  though 
believers  be  freed  from  the  terror  of  the  law,  yet  not  from  the  obedi 
ence  of  it ;  yea,  if  they  continue  in  any  known  and  allowed  neglects, 
they  lose  their  privilege,  and  are  not  judged  by  a  law  of  liberty,  but 
fall  under  the  utmost  rigour  and  severity  of  the  sentence  forementioned. 

$o  speak  ye,  and  so  do. — He  joineth  the  matter  hinted  in  the  close 
of  the  former  chapter  concerning  speech,  ver.  27,  and  the  matter  of 
the  present  chapter,  concerning  impartial  respects,  together ;  and 
saith,  '  so  speak/  as  relating  to  those  directions  ;  '  so  do/  as  relating  to 
the  present  case  ;  and  the  rather,  because  not  only  actions  but  speeches 
fall  under  the  judgment  of  God  and  the  law. 

As  they  that  shall  be  judged. — Some  read,  *  as  those  that  will  judge/ 
as  applying  it  to  the  direct  context ;  and  they  make  out  the  sense 
thus : — In  the  Old  Testament,  differences  of  persons  were  not  so  ex 
pressly  forbidden ;  but  now,  as  differences  of  nation,  so  of  relation, 
are  taken  away  by  the  law  of  liberty :  bond  and  free  are  all  one  in 
Christ,  Gal.  iii.  28  ;  and  therefore  you  are  to  judge  without  any  re 
spect  of  persons.  But  this  seemeth  more  argute  than  solid.  It  is 
better  to  keep  our  own  reading,  '  as  those  that  shall  be  judged  ;'  that 
is,  either  in  conscience  here,  or  rather  at  the  tribunal  of  God  hereafter. 

By  the  laio  of  liberty. — The  same  expression  is  used  in  the  25th 
verse  of  the  former  chapter.  But  what  is  the  force  of  it  here  ?  The 
lowest  reason  may  be,  because  their  observance  of  rich  men  was  servile, 
and  the  law  commanded  nobler  and  freer  respects,  more  separate  from 
base  aims  and  self -advantage ;  or  else  in  this  expression  the  apostle 
may  anticipate  an  objection  which  might  be  framed  against  the  rigour 
of  the  former  sentence ;  they  might  pretend  they  had  an  exemption 
by  Christ.  The  apostle  granteth  there  was  a  liberty,  but  not  a 
license  ;  for  still  there  is  a  law,  though  to  the  elect  a  law  of  liberty  ; 
but,  saith  he,  see  that  your  interest  be  good.  To  wicked  men  it  is 
still  a  bondage,  and  a  hard  yoke.  Therefore,  walk  so  that  you  may 
not  be  judged  in  a  legal  way,  for  then  the  least  failing  maketh  you 
obnoxious  to  the  curse ;  which  rigour,  if  you  would  not  undergo,  see 

1  So  in  first  edition  ;  in  second  edition,  '  toying.'     Qu.  '  crying  '  ? — ED. 

JAS.  II.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  219 

that  you  walk  so  that  you  may  give  evidence  that  you  are  come  under 
the  banner  of  love  and  the  privileges  of  the  gospel.  And  then,  when 
you  come  to  be  judged,  you  will  be  judged  upon  gospel  terms ;  other 
wise  there  is  no  liberty  or  freedom  for  any  that  allow  themselves  in 
the  least  breach  or  voluntary  neglect,  nothing  to  be  expected  but 
judgment  without  mercy. 

From  this  verse  I  observe : — 

Obs.  1.  That  the  law  in  the  hands  of  Christ  is  a  law  of  liberty. 

1.  It  is  a  '  law:'  1  Cor.  ix.  21,  '  I  am  not  ai/o/*o9,  without  the  law,  but 
eWo/zo?,  under  the  law  to  Christ.'     There  is  a  yoke,  though  not  an 
insupportable  burden.     Though  there  be  not  rigour,  yet  there  is  a  rule 
still.     It  is  directive :  '  He  hath  showed  thee,  0  man,  what  is  good/ 
Micah  vi.  8.     The  acceptable  will  of  God  is  discovered  in  the  law  of  ten 
words,  and  the  moral  part  of  the  scripture  is  but  a  commentary  upon  it. 
And  it  is  also  imperative.     It  is  not  arbitrary  to  us  whether  we  will 
obey  or  no.     Laws  are  obliging.     The  will  of  the  creator  being  signi 
fied  to  us  in  the  law,  we  are  under  the  commanding  power  of  it. 
Things  moral  and  just  are  perpetually  obliging :  Rom.  vii.  12,  '  The 
law  is  holy,  and  the  commandment  holy,  just,  and  good/     It  is  holy, 
it  discovereth  true  strictness.     It  is  just  or  suitable  to  those  common 
notices  of  right  and  equity  which  are  impressed  upon  the  creature ; 
and  it  is  good,  that  is,  profitable,  useful  for  man.     All  which  things 
infer  a  perpetual  obligation ;  and  if  the  law  were  not  obliging,  there 
could  be  no  sin ;  for  where  there  is  no  obligation,  there  is  no  trans 
gression  :  1  John  iii.  4,  '  Whosoever  committeth  sin,  transgresseth  the 
law ;  for  sin  is  the  transgression  of  the  law.'     Now  natural  conscience 
would  soon  be  offended  at  that  doctrine  that  should  make  murder, 
incest,  or  adultery  no  sins ;  and  therefore  it  is  but  the  vain  conceit  of 
profane  men  in  these  times  to  think  that  the  gospel  freeth  us  from  the 
obligation  of  the  law  because  it  freeth  us  from  the  curse  of  it,  for  then 
all  duty  would  be  will-worship,  and  sin  but  a  fond  conceit. 

2.  It  is  a  '  law  of  liberty  ; '  for  there  is  a  great  deal  of  freedom  pur 
chased  by  Christ. 

[1.]  We  are  freed  from  the  law,  as  a  covenant  of  works.  We 
are  not  absolutely  bound  to  such  rigour  and  exactness  as  that  re 
quired.  Life  and  glory  is  not  offered  upon  such  strict  terms.  We 
ought  to  aim  at  exactness  of  obedience,  but  not  to  despair  if  we  can 
not  reach  it.  We  are  so  far  to  eye  perfect  obedience,  as  if  it  were  still 
the  matter  of  our  justification,  as  to  be  humbled  for  defects.  A  gra 
cious  heart  cannot  offend  a  good  God  without  grief.  Sin  is  still  damn 
ing  in  its  own  nature,  still  a  violation  of  a  righteous  law,  still  an 
affront  to  God.  Nay,  there  are  new  arguments  of  humiliation,  as  sin 
ning  against  God's  love  and  kindness,  the  forfeiting  of  our  actual 
fruition  of  the  comforts  of  the  covenant,  though  not  our  right  in  it,  &c. 
And  as  to  be  humbled  for  our  defects,  so  to  be  as  earnest  in  our 
endeavours.  You  have  more  reason  to  be  strict,  because  you  have 
more  help.  Lex  jubet,  gratia  juvat — we  have  more  advantages,  and 
therefore  we  should  have  more  care  of  duty :  Phil.  iii.  11,  '  I  press  on, 
that  if  it  be  possible  I  may  attain  the  resurrection  from  the  dead ; ' 
that  is,  the  holiness  of  that  state.  A  Christian's  actions  are  much 
below  his  aims.  They  have  no  grace  that  can  be  content  with  a  little 

220  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  12. 

grace.  So  that  you  see  we  ought  to  look  to  the  law's  utmost,  though 
we  be  not  judged  by  the  law's  rigour.  Failings  not  allowed  are  par 
doned,  and  weaknesses  passed  by  ;  the  obedience  required  of  us  being 
not  that  of  servants,  but  children  :  Mai.  iii.  17,  '  I  will  spare  them,  as 
a  man  spareth  his  only  son/ 

[2.]  We  are  freed  from  the  curse  and  condemnation.  The  law  may 
condemn  the  actions,  it  cannot  condemn  the  person.  It  judgeth 
actions  according  to  their  quality,  but  it  hath  no  power  over  the  per 
son.  So  we  are  said  to  be  '  dead  to  the  law/  Gal.  ii.  19,  and  the  law 
to  us,  Gal.  iv.  6,  and  therefore  the  apostle  saith,  ovbev  /card/cpifjia, 
'  There  is  not  one  condemnation  to  them  that  are  in  Christ,'  Bom.  viii. 
1.  The  curse  may  be  proposed  to  a  believer,  but  it  cannot  take  hold 
of  a  believer.  Not  only  colts,  but  horses  already  broken,  need  a  bridle. 

[3.]  We  are  freed  from  the  curse  and  irritation  of  the  law  :  Bom. 
vii.,  '  Sin  took  occasion  from  the  commandment/  Carnal  hearts  grow 
worse  for  a  restraint,  as  waters  swell  and  rage  when  the  course  is  stopped. 
The  very  prohibition  is  an  occasional  provocation ;  but  to  a  gracious 
heart  it  is  motive  enough  to  a  duty,  because  God  willeth  it. 

[4.]  We  are  freed  from  bondage  and  terrors.  By  natural  men  duties 
are  done  servilely,  and  out  of  slavish  principles :  '  We  have  not  received 
the  spirit  of  bondage  again  unto  fear,'  Bom.  viii.  15.  The  great  prin 
ciple  in  the  Old  Testament,  when  the  dispensation  was  more  legal, 
was  fear.  Therefore  it  is  said,  '  The  fear  of  God  is  the  beginning 
of  wisdom/  Prov.  ix.  ;  and  '  the  whole  duty  of  man  is  to  fear  God, 
and  keep  his  commandments/  Eccles.  xii.  13.  Fear  is  represented 
as  the  great  principle  of  duty  and  worship  in  the  Old  Testament,  as 
suitable  to  that  dispensation.  But  in  the  New  we  read  that  '  love 
constraineth/  2  Cor.  v.  14 ;  that  love  '  keepeth  the  commandments/ 
1  John  v.  2,  &c.  To  the  old  world  God  more  discovered  his  will,  to 
us  his  grace ;  and  therefore  our  great  constraint  is  to  arise  from  love 
and  sweetness. 

Use.  It  showeth  us  the  happiness  of  those  which  are  in  Christ :  the 
law  to  a  believer  is  a  law  of  liberty;  to  another  it  is  the  law  of 
bondage  and  death.  We  may  '  serve  him  without  fear/  Luke  i.  57, 
that  is,  without  slavish  fear.  Beasts  are  urged  with  goads,  and  things 
without  life  haled  with  cart-ropes  ;  but  Christians  are  led  by  sanctified 
affections,  motives  of  grace,  and  considerations  of  gratitude.  Oh! 
look  to  yourselves,  then,  whether  you  be  in  Christ  or  no.  How  sweet 
is  this,  when  we  are  '  free  for  righteousness/  and  do  not  complain 
of  the  commandment,  but  of  sin,  and  the  transgression  is  looked 
upon  as  a  bondage,  rather  than  duty  !  The  same  apostle  that  groaned 
under  the  body  of  death,  delighted  in  the  law  of  the  Lord  in  the 
inward  man,  Bom.  vii.  God's  restraints  are  not  a  bondage,  but  our 
own  corruptions.  And  again,  how  sweet  is  this,  when  the  command 
giveth  us  a  warrant,  and  love  a  motive,  and  we  can  come  before  God 
as  children,  not  as  hirelings  ! 

Obs.  2.  That  we  shall  be  judged  by  the  law  at  the  last  day ;  see 
Bom.  ii.  12,  '  As  many  as  have  sinned  in  the  law  shall  be  judged  by 
the  law/  The  apostle's  drift  is  to  prove  that  all  men  out  of  Christ 
are  under  a  condemnation,  whether  they  had  a  law  promulged  or  a 
law  inbred ;  a  law  written  in  tables  of  stone,  as  the  Jews ;  or  in  tables 

JAS.  II.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  221 

of  the  heart,  as  the  Gentiles.  All  are  judged  according  to  the  decla 
rations  of  his  will  that  God  hath  made  to  them :  they  that  have 
gospel  by  gospel,  or  'the  law  of  faith/  Horn.  iii.  31,  'The  words 
that  I  have  spoken,  shall  judge  them  at  the  last  day,'  John  xii.  48 ; 
they  that  have  only  the  law  of  nature,  by  the  law  natural ;  they 
that  had  the  law  written,  by  the  law  of  tables ;  believers,  by  the  law 
of  liberty, — Christ's  obedience  shall  be  put  upon  their  score.  How 
ever  their  actions  are  brought  to  be  scanned  by  a  law  and  rule,  their 
faith  shall  be  judged  and  approved  by  their  works,  which,  though 
they  be  not  the  causes  of  glory,  yet  they  are  the  evidences :  as 
motion  is  not  the  cause  of  life,  but  the  effect  and  token  of  it.  That 
works  are  brought  into  judgment  appeareth  by  that  scheme,  Mat. 
xxv.  35.  So  Kev.  xx.  12,  '  The  books  were  opened,  and  every  man 
was  judged  according  to  his  works.'  The  judge  of  the  world  will 
show  that  he  doth  rightly.  The  works  of  the  wicked  are  produced  as 
the  merit  of  their  ruin ;  the  works  of  the  godly,  as  evidences  of  glory  : 
and  therefore  the  apostle,  when  he  speaketh  of  the  process  of  God 
with  the  godly  and  wicked,  he  noteth  the  reward  and  the  recompense 
of  the  godly  in  a  different  term  and  phrase :  Kom.  vi.  23,  '  The  wages 
of  sin  is  death,  but  the  gift  of  God  is  eternal  life/  The  works  of  the 
wicked  are  produced  to  show  the  equity  of  their  wages  ;  the  works  of 
the  godly,  to  declare  their  interest  in  his  gift.  Well,  then,  if  the  law 
be  the  rule  of  judgment,  then  let  it  be  so  now.  If  your  confidence 
will  not  stand  before  the  word,  it  will  not  stand  before  Christ  at  his 
appearing.  We  might  anticipate  and  prevent  the  sentence  of  that 
day  if  we  would  go  to  the  law  and  to  the  testimony.  This  is  usual  in 
experience,  that  persons  the  more  ignorant,  the  more  presuming ;  and 
men  that  contemn  and  neglect  the  means  of  grace  have  highest  hopes. 
The  reason  is,  because  they  cherish  a  confidence  which  the  word 
would  soon  confute ;  and  therefore,  out  of  a  secret  consciousness  of 
their  own  guilt,  shun  that  way  of  trial :  '  They  come  not  to  the  light, 
lest  their  deeds  should  be  reproved/  John  iii.  20.  Oh !  if  you  dare 
not  stand  before  the  word  now,  as  it  is  opened  by  a  minister,  what  will 
you  do  when  it  is  opened  by  Christ?  Therefore  when  the  word 
reproveth,  regard  it  with  all  reverence  and  fear :  This  word  judgeth 
me  now,  and  it  will  judge  me  at  the  last  day.  Many  fret  at  the  light ; 
as  the  Ethiopians  once  a  year  solemnly  curse  the  sun.  Oh  !  but  how 
will  they  gnash  the  teeth  when  this  word  shall  be  brought  against 
them  at  the  coming  of  Christ  in  the  clouds ! 

Again,  if  we  shall  be  judged  according  to  the  measure  of  light  and 
knowledge  that  we  have  of  the  law,  it  presseth  us  to  bring  forth  fruits 
answerable  to  the  dispensation  of  God.  It  is  sad  to  put  the  finger  in 
nature's  eye,  much  more  to  grow  black  and  wanzy  in  the  sunshine  of 
the  gospel.  As  God  looketh  to  the  rule,  so  to  our  proportions  and 
measures  of  light :  '  If  I  had  not  spoken  to  them,  they  had  had  no  sin/ 
saith  Christ ;  that  is,  no  such  sin,  not  that  kind  of  sin,  not  so  ^much 
sin.  Gentiles  shall  answer  for  their  knowledge,  and  we  according  to 
our  proportions.  In  sins  of  knowledge  there  is  more  of  sin ;  for  accord 
ing  to  the  sense  that  we  have  of  the  law  forbidding,  so  is  sin  increased, 
and  there  is  more  of  malice ;  therefore  apostates,  who  have  most 
knowledge  of  the  truth,  are  (as  Arnobius  saith)  Haximi  osores  sui 

222  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  12. 

ordinis — the  greatest  enemies  to  their  own  order  and  profession  ;  and 
suitable  the  prophet  Hosea  v.  2,  '  The  revolters  are  profound  to  make 
slaughter.'  Certainly  there  is  more  unkindness  to  God  when  we  sin 
against  a  direct  sight  and  intuition  of  his  will :  and  therefore  David 
aggravateth  his  adultery,  because  it  was  committed  after  God  had 
made  him  '  to  know  wisdom  in  the  inward  part,'  Ps.  li.  6 ;  which  cer 
tainly  is  the  intent  of  the  Hebrew  text  there,  though  we  read  somewhat 
otherwise  in  our  translation.  It  is  sad  that  after  the  law  is  written 
upon  the  heart,  it  should  be  transgressed  ;  in  such  acts  there  is  a  kind 
of  violence  offered  to  the  principles  and  suggestions  of  our  own  bosom. 
Obs.  3.  It  is  a  great  help  to  our  Christian  course  to  think  of  the 
day  of  judgment.  They  best  prepare  themselves  to  the  spiritual 
battle  that  always  hear  the  sound  of  that  day's  trump.  Do  not  think 
it  is  against  the  liberty  of  the  gospel  to  think  of  these  severe  accounts, 
or  a  talk  only  for  novices ;  it  is  useful  for  the  children  of  God. 
Though  they  are  delivered  from  the  rigour  of  that  day,  yet  they  ought 
still  to  reflect  upon  it  with  reverence.  I  confess  there  are  some  ser 
vile  reflections  which  beget  nothing  but  torment  and  bondage  in  the 
spirit ;  these  will  not  become  the  children  of  God.  But  still  a  holy 
awe  and  reverence  is  necessary ;  you  will  find  it  of  special  use  to 
quicken  you  to  Christian  care  and  watchfulness.  There  are  evange 
lical  reflections  which  serve  to  make  the  spirit  strict,  but  not  servile. 
It  is  a  fondness  in  them  that  think  this  argument  is  wholly  legal.  The 
apostle  Paul  maketh  the  doctrine  of  judgment  to  come  to  be  a  part 
of  the  gospel,  Kom.  ii.  13  :  '  God  will  judge  the  secrets  of  all  men 
according  to  my  gospel,'  that  is,  according  as  I  have  taught  in  the 
dispensation  of  the  gospel.  And,  indeed,  it  is  a  branch  of  the  most 
glorious  part  of  the  doctrine  of  the  gospel ;  Christ's  judging  being  the 
highest  and  most  imperial  act  of  his  kingly  office.  The  truth  is,  it  is  of 
excellent  use  to  invite  wicked  men  to  repentance,  and  therefore  Paul 
chose  this  argument  at  Athens,  Acts  xvii.  31,  'He  hath  commanded 
all  men  to  repent,  because  he  hath  appointed  a  day  wherein  he  will 
judge  the  world  in  righteousness.'  Three  reasons  may  be  given  why 
he  useth  that  motive  to  them  at  first.  One  is  intimated  in  the  text, 
because  it  is  a  forcible  and  pressing  motive  to  repentance ;  and  the 
other  two  may  be  easily  conjectured,  or  collected  out  of  the  context. 
As,  secondly,  to  prevent  their  plea,  that  if  they  had  been  in  a  wrong 
way,  they  had  found  it  a  happy  way ;  no  judgment  or  plague  had 
lighted  upon  them.  The  apostle  anticipateth  this  objection  by  telling 
them,  '  at  those  days  of  ignorance  God  winked/  but  now  taketh  notice  ; 
and  if  they  did  not  repent  now,  however  they  escaped  here,  they  should 
be  sure  to  meet  with  judgment  to  come.  And,  thirdly,  because  the 
heathens  themselves  had  some  kind  of  dread  and  expectation  of  such  a 
day,  conscience  being  but  the  counterpart  of  this  doctrine ;  and,  there 
fore,  when  Paul  spake  of  'judgment  to  come,  Felix  trembled/  though 
an  heathen,  Acts  xxiv.  25.  The  philosophers  had  some  dreams  of  a 
severe  day  of  accounts,  as  appeareth  by  Plato's  Gorgias,  many  passages 
in  Tully,  &c.  And  possibly  herein  the  light  of  nature  might  be  much 
helped  by  tradition;  so  that,  for  the  first  and  inviting  motive,  it 
serveth  excellently.  Nay,  the  people  of  God,  that  are  already  brought 
into  Christ,  find  a  great  deal  of  sweet  use  and  profit  by  exercising 

JAS.  II.  12.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  223 

their  thoughts  in  it.  The  strictness  of  it  serveth  to  scare  them  out  of 
their  own  righteousness.  Nothing  but  Christ's  righteousness  will 
serve  for  Christ's  judgment :  '  That  I  maybe  found  in  him/  &c.,  Phil, 
iii.  9.  When  wrath  cometh  thus  solemnly  to  make  inquisition  for 
sinners,  it  is  comfortable  to  be  '  hidden  in  the  cleft  of  the  rock/  to  be 
*  found  in  him.'  So  also  it  is  useful  to  make  them  more  strict  and 
watchful ;  that  they  may  keep  faith  and  grace  in  a  constant  exercise, 
and  so  be  fit  to  meet  the  Lord  when  he  cometh,  with  joy  and  bold 
ness.  The  preacher,  when  he  had  propounded  the  whole  duty  of  man, 
he  enforceth  it  upon  this  motive,  '  For  God  shall  bring  every  work  to 
judgment/  Eccles.  xii.  13,  14.  And  again,  more  faithful  in  their  call 
ings.  Whatever  things  are  omitted  at  the  day  of  judgment,  our  car 
riage  in  our  callings  is  chiefly  noted  and  produced,  it  being  that 
particular  sphere  to  which  we  are  limited  and  confined  for  serving  the 
great  ends  of  our  creation.  And  as  all  callings  are  respected,  so 
especially  those  high  callings  wherein  there  is  some  peculiar  and 
special  ministration  to  God,  or  some  charge  and  employment  for  the 
public  good.  Paul  himself,  though  a  chosen  vessel,  a  man  of  strong 
affections  to  Christ,  yet  thought  need  sometimes  to  use  the  spur ;  and 
though  he  professed  that  he  chiefly  acted  out  of  the  constraints  of  love, 
yet  he  also  took  the  advantage  of  fear,  '  Knowing  the  terror  of  the 
Lord  in  that  day,  we  persuade  men/  2  Cor.  v.  11,  implying  that  a  re 
flection  upon  the  severity  and  strictness  of  the  day  of  judgment  was  a 
great  enforcement  to  urge  him  to  faithfulness  in  the  ministry ;  and 
having  found  the  use  of  it  in  his  own  spirit,  he  presseth  Timothy  by 
the  same  motive  :  2  Tim.  iv.  1,2,  'I  charge  thee,  before  Jesus  Christ, 
who  shall  judge  quick  and  dead,  be  instant;  preach  the  word  in 
season,  out  of  season/  It  is  a  most  vehement  persuasive  to  diligence, 
when  we  consider  that  we  must  give  an  account  of  our  work.  So  also 
to  make  them  thankful.  There  cannot  be  a  greater  argument  of  praise 
than  when  we  consider  our  deliverance  from  wrath,  when  wrath  is 
drawn  out  to  the  height,  that  we  can  look  Christ  in  the  face  with  com 
fort,  1  John  ii.  28  ;  and  we  may  begin  our  triumph  when  others  are 
overwhelmed  with  terrors.  So  the  apostle  saith,  1  John  iv.  17, 
'  Herein  is  love  perfect,  that  we  may  have  boldness  at  the  day  of  judg 
ment  ; '  that  is,  therein  is  the  height  and  perfection  of  the  divine  love 
discovered,  that  when  others  call  upon  mountains  to  cover  them,  we 
may  lift  up  our  heads  with  comfort,  and  may  call  the  world's  judge 
our  friend  and  father. 

Lastly,  To  awaken  their  souls  to  an  earnestness  of  desire  and  expec 
tation.  The  good  servant  expecteth  his  master's  coming,  Mat.  xxiv. 
45,  and  '  the  bride  saith,  Come/  Kev.  xxii.  The  day  of  judgment  is 
the  day  of  Christ's  royalty  and  your  espousals  :  here  we  are  betrothed, 
not  married.  When  Christ  went  out  of  the  world,  there  were  mutual 
and  interchangeable  pledges  of  love  and  affection.  Nobis  dedit  arr- 
habonem  Spiritus ;  a  nobis  accepit  arrhabonem  carnis.1  He  left  us 
the  pledge  of  his  Spirit,  as  Elijah  ascending,  left  his  mantle  ;  he  took 
from  us  the  pledge  of  our  flesh  and  nature ;  therefore  certainly  all 
that  have  interest  in  Christ  must  needs  '  love  the  day  of  his  appearing/ 
2  Tim.  iv.  8. 

1  Tertullianus. 

224  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  12. 

Use.  Well,  then,  often  exercise  your  thoughts  in  this  matter.  Think 
of  the  judge,  of  his  majesty,  on  the  glory  of  his  appearance  ;  when 
the  graves  are  opened,  rocks  are  rent,  and  Christ's  unspeakable  glory 
shall  break  forth  like  lightning  through  the  heavens ;  when  he  shall 
come  riding  on  the  clouds,  environed  with  flames  of  fire,  attended  with 
all  the  host  of  the  elect  angels,  and  the  great  shout  and  trump  shall 
summon  all  before  the  royal  throne  of  Christ's  judgment.  Consider, 
also,  his  purity  and  holiness.  When  God  discovered  himself  in  a  par 
ticular  judgment,  they  said,  1  Sam.  vi.  20,  '  Who  can  stand  before  this 
holy  God  ? 3  But  when  Christ  cometh  to  judge  all  the  world,  '  with  a 
garment  white  as  snow,  and  the  hair  of  his  head  like  pure  wool,'  Dan. 
vii.  9,  how  will  guilty  spotted  creatures  appear  in  his  presence  ? 
Christ's  throne  is  '  a  white  throne/  Eev.  xx.  11,  and  black  sinners  can 
not  stand  before  it.  None  have  confidence  in  that  day  but  either 
such  as  are  of  an  unspotted  innocency,  as  the  angels,  or  those  that 
are  washed  in  Christ's  blood,  as  the  saints.  Consider  his  strict  justice : 
nothing  so  small  and  inconsiderable  but,  if  it  be  sinful,  God  hateth  it. 
Idle  and  light  words  weigh  heavy  in  God's  balance,  Mat.  xii.  36. 
Nothing  so  hidden  and  secret  but  is  then  opened ;  deadness,  irreve 
rence,  unsavoriness  in  holy  duties,  the  least  failing  or  defect  in  cir 
cumstance,  manner,  or  end.  A  man  should  never  think  of  the  severity 
of  that  day  but  he  should  cry  out,  *  If  thou,  Lord,  shouldst  mark 
iniquities,  who  shall  stand  ? '  Ps.  cxxx.  3.  Stand,  that  is,  rectus  m 
curia,  be  able  to  make  a  bold  defence  in  that  day.  Those  sins  which, 
through  the  commonness  and  easiness  of  error,  seem  to  challenge  a 
pardon  of  course,  and  wherein  we  are  most  indulgent  to  ourselves,  as 
the  follies  and  excesses  committed  through  the  heat  of  youth,  and  so 
in  man's  account,  who  hath  but  a  drop  of  indignation  against  sin,  are 
venial,  shall  be  then  produced  :  Eccles.  xi.  9,  '  Know  that  for  all  these 
things  God  will  bring  thee  to  judgment/  Oh  !  think  of  these  things 
to  an  evangelical  purpose,  that  ye  may  trust  in  nothing  but  Christ's 
righteousness  against  Christ's  judgment. 

Obs.  4.  From  that  so  speak,  and  so  do :  that  not  only  our  actions, 
but  our  speeches,  in  which  we  are  less  deliberate,  come  under  the  judi- 
catory  of  God  and  the  word :  Mat.  xii.  36,  *  But  I  say  unto  you,  that 
every  idle  word  that  men  shall  speak,  they  shall  give  an  account 
thereof  in  the  day  of  judgment ;  for  by  thy  words  shalt  thou  be  jus 
tified,  by  thy  words  condemned.'  Usually  we  forget  ourselves  in  our 
speeches,  and  make  light  account  of  them  ;  ay !  but  for  idle  words, 
not  only  evil,  but  idle,  we  shall  be  judged  in  the  last  day.  Evil  words 
show  a  wicked  heart,  and  idle  words  a  vain  mind.  There  is  a  quick 
intercourse  between  the  heart  and  the  tongue  ;  and  whatever  aboundeth 
in  the  heart  cometh  uppermost,  and  findeth  vent  in  the  speech.  There 
fore  let  wicked  men  beware  lest  '  their  own  tongue  fall  upon  them,* 
Ps.  Ixiv.  8.  Better  have  a  whole  mountain  than  one  evil  tongue  to 
fall  upon  us ;  this  will  crush  you  to  pieces  in  the  day  of  wrath.  Well, 
then,  it  shows  how  fond  their  excuse  is  who  hope  they  are  not  so  bad 
as  they  make  themselves  in  their  words.  Alas !  this  is  one  of  the 
nearest  and  clearest  discoveries  of  what  is  in  thy  heart ;  thy  tongue 
should  be  thy  glory,  Ps.  ix.,  and  it  is  thy  shame.  Evil  words  have  a 
cursed  influence ;  that  o-aTrpos  Xo7o?,  '  rotten  communication/  Col.  iv.  6, 

JAS.  II.  13  ]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  225 

passeth  through  others  like  lightning,  and  setteth  them  all  on  fire. 
Behold  a  great  deceit  in  good  things  :  men  think  their  talking  should 
excuse  their  ivalking ;  in  bad  they  hope  their  hearts  are  good,  though 
their  communications  be  vile  and  base.  A  stinking  breath  argueth 
corrupt  lungs  ;  such  putrid  and  rank  speeches  come  from  a  foul 
heart.  Christ  asked  his  disciples,  '  What  manner  of  communications 
they  had  ? '  Luke  xxiv.  17.  Xenophon  and  Plato  gave  rules  that 
men's  speeches  at  meals,  and  such  like  meetings,  should  be  written, 
that  they  might  be  more  serious.  Oh !  consider,  God  writeth  them. 
What  a  shameful  story  will  be  brought  out  against  you  at  the  day  of 
judgment,  when  all  your  rotten  and  unsavoury  speeches  shall  be  num 
bered  and  reckoned  up  to  you !  It  is  observable,  when  Paul,  Bom. 
iii.  13,  14,  maketh  an  anatomy  of  a  natural  man,  he  standeth  more 
on  the  organs  of  speech  than  all  the  other  members :  '  Their  throat 
is  an  open  sepulchre ;  with  their  tongues  have  they  used  deceit ;  the 
poison  of  asps  is  under  their  lips  ;  their  mouth  is  full  of  cursing  and 
bitterness/  &c.  The  inward  dunghill  reeketh,  and  sendeth  forth  its 
stench  most  this  way. 

Ver.  13.  For  he  shall  have  judgment  without  mercy  that  showed 
no  mercy  ;  and  mercy  rejoiceth  against  judgment. 

He  applieth  the  former  direction  to  the  matter :  '  So  speak,  and  so 
do/  as  those  that  would  not  come  under  the  rigour  of  the  covenant 
of  works  ;  for  if  you  allow  yourselves  in  any  sin,  or  do  anything 
against  any  part  of  the  royal  law,  you  can  expect  nothing  but  'judg 
ment  without  mercy.'  But  to  be  cruel  to  your  brethren  with  allow 
ance  and  indulgence  is  a  sin  that  will  put  you  into  that  capacity ;  not 
only  as  it  is  an  allowed  transgression  of  the  law,  but  a  special  sin,  that 
in  equity  seemeth  to  require  such  a  judgment ;  it  being  most  meet 
that  they  should  find  no  mercy  that  would  show  none. 

For  lie  shall  have  judgment  ivithout  mercy. — In  which  expression 
he  intimateth  the  effect  of  the  covenant  of  works,  which  is  judgment 
without  any  mixture  and  temper  of  mercy,  the  law  abating  nothing  to 
the  transgressor  ;  as  also  to  imply  the  retaliation  of  God  :  hard  men 
justly  meet  with  hard  dealing  and  recompense. 

That  shoiued  no  mercy. — As  if  he  had  said,  Mercy  is  not  for  those 
that  only  honour  rich  men,  but  them  that  are  full  of  bowels  and 
bounty  to  the  poor  ;  for  by  '  showing  no  mercy '  he  either  intendeth 
shutting  up  the  bowels  against  the  necessities  of  the  poor,  or  using 
them  with  contumely,  injury,  and  reproach.  They  were  so  far  from 
giving  due  respect,  that  they  were  guilty  of  undue  disrespect ;  a  prac 
tice  which  certainly  will  leave  us  ashamed  at  the  day  of  judgment, 
when  the  Lord  shall  slight  our  persons,  and  leave  us  to  our  own  just 
horrors  and  discouragements. 

And  mercy  rejoiceth  over  judgment — The  word  is  KaraKawxarai, 
'boasteth,  lifteth  up  the  head ;  as  a  man  will  when  anything  is  accom 
plished  with  glory  and  success.  This  latter  clause  hath  been  tortured 
and  vexed  with  diversity  of  expositions  :  it  were  fruitless  to  number 
up  all  to  you  :  they  may  be  referred  to  two  general  heads.  Some  take 
mercy  here  for  God's  mercy ;  others  for  man's  mercy.  They  that 
apply  it  to  God  either  expound  it  thus :  They  have  a  severe  judg 
ment  ;  and  if  it  be  not  so  with  all,  it  is  merely  the  mercy  of  God 

VOL.  IV.  P 

226  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  13. 

which  hath  rejoiced  and  triumphed  over  his  justice.  So  Fulgentius 
among  the  fathers.  But  this  is  too  forced.  Others,  as  Gregory,  <fec., 
carry  it,  with  more  probability,  thus :  Though  unmerciful  men  be 
severely  handled,  yet,  in  the  behalf  of  others,  mercy  rejoiceth  over 
judgment;  that  is,  in  the  conflict  and  contest  between  attributes 
about  sinners,  mercy  getteth  the  victory  and  upperhand,  and  so 
rejoiceth,  as  men  when  they  divide  the  spoil.  Piscator  maketh  out 
this  sense  yet  more  subtilely,  taking  KOI,  which  we  translate  and,  for 
though  or  yet,  as  it  is  often  in  scripture ;  and  then  the  sense  is, 
Though  mercy  itself  would  fain  rejoice  over  judgment,  acts  of  pity 
and  kindness  being  exercised  with  more  of  God's  delight,  yet  at  the 
sight  of  unmercif ulness  the  bowels  of  it  shrink  up  and  retire.  I  should 
incline  this  way,  but  that  the  apostle  speaketh  here  of  that  mercy 
which  man  showeth  to  man  :  for  there  seemeth  to  be  a  thesis  and  an 
antithesis,  a  position  and  an  opposition,  in  the  verse.  In  the  position 
the  apostle  asserteth  that  the  unmerciful  shall  find  no  mercy  ;  in  the 
opposition,  that  mercy  findeth  the  judgment  not  only  tempered,  but 
overcome ;  that  is,  he  that  showeth  mercy  is  not  in  danger  of 
damnation,  for  God  will  not  condemn  those  that  imitate  his  own 
goodness ;  and  therefore  he  may  rejoice  over  his  fears,  as  one  that 
hath  escaped.  Now  the  orthodox,  that  go  this  way  of  applying  it  to 
man's  mercy,  do  not  make  this  disposition  a  cause  of  our  acceptance 
with  God,  but  an  evidence  ;  mercy  showed  to  men  being  an  assured 
pledge  of  that  mercy  which  he  shall  obtain  with  God.  I  confess  all 
this  Is  rational ;  but  look  to  the  phrase  of  the  text,  and  you  will  find 
some  inconvenience  in  this  opinion  ;  for  it  will  be  a  speech  of  a  most 
harsh  sound  and  construction  to  say  that  our  mercy  should  rejoice 
against  God's  judgment;  for  then  man  would  seem  to  have  'somewhat 
wherewith  to  glory  before  God,'  which  is  contrary  to  David,  who 
denieth  any  work  of  ours  to  be  justifiable  in  his  sight,  Ps.  cxliiL  2,  or 
to  be  able  to  hold  up  the  head  or  neck  against  his  judgment ;  con 
trary  to  Christ,  who  forbiddeth  this  rejoicing  against  the  divine 
judgment,  though  we  be  conscious  to  ourselves  of  performing  our 
duty,  Luke  xvii.  10  ;  and  contrary  to  Paul,  who  saith  there  is  no 
glorying  before  God,  Kom.  iv.  2.  All  the  rejoicing  we  have  against 
God's  justice  is  in  the  victory  of  his  mercy  ;  therefore  I  believe  these 
two  senses  may  be  well  compounded  and  modified  each  by  the  other, 
thus  :  It  is  the  mercy  of  God  that  rejoiceth  over  his  justice,  and  it  is 
mercy  in  man  that  giveth  us  to  rejoice  in  the  mercy  of  God ;  and 
therefore  the  wisdom  of  the  apostle  is  to  be  observed  in  framing  the 
speech  so  that  it  might  be  indifferently  compliant  with  both  these 
senses.  Yea,  upon  a  more  accurate  and  intimate  consideration  of  the 
words,  I  find  that  the  opposition  in  the  apostle's  speech  doth  not  lie  so 
much  between  unmercifulness  and  mercy,  as  between  judgment  with 
out  mercy  and  judgment  overcome  by  mercy.  Therefore,  upon  the 
issue  of  the  whole  debate,  I  should  judge  that  the  apostle's  speech  is 
elliptical,  and  more  must  be  understood  than  is  expressed ;  mercy  in 
God  being  expressed  as  the  rise  of  our  triumph,  and  mercy  in  man 
being  understood  as  the  evidence  of  it :  and  the  sum  is,  that  the 
merciful  man  may  glory  as  one  that  hath  received  mercy,  for  the 
mercy  of  God  rejoicing  over  the  justice  of  God  in  his  behalf ;  he  may 

JAS.  II.  13.]  UPON  THE  EPISTLE  OF  JAMES.  227 

rejoice  over  Satan,  sin,  death,  hell,  and  his  own  conscience.  In  the 
court  of  heaven  the  mercy  of  God  rejoiceth  ;  in  the  court  of  conscience, 
the  mercy  of  man  :  the  one  noteth  a  victory  over  the  divine  justice, 
the  other  a  victory  over  our  own  fears. 

The  observations  are  these  : — 

Obs.  1.  The  condition  of  men  under  the  covenant  of  works  is  very 
miserable.  They  meet  with  justice  without  any  temper  of  mercy. 
The  word  speaketh  no  comfort  to  them.  Either  exact  duty  or  extreme 
misery  are  the  terms  of  that  covenant.  'Do  and  live,'  and  'do 
and  die,'  is  the  only  voice  you  shall  hear  whilst  you  hold  by  that 
tenure.  God  asked  of  Adam,  '  What  hast  thou  done  ? '  not,  Hast  thou 
repented  ?  So  in  the  prophet,  Ezek.  xviii.,  '  The  soul  that  sinneth 
shall  die.'  The  least  breach  is  fatal.  To  man  fallen  the  duty  of  that 
covenant  is  impossible,  the  penalty  of  it  is  intolerable.  Fore-going 
sins  cannot  be  expiated  by  subsequent  duties.  Paying  of  new  debts 
doth  not  quit  the  old  score.  Will  you  hope  in  God's  mercy  ?  One 
attribute  is  not  exercised  to  the  prejudice  and  wrong  of  another.  In 
that  covenant  God  intendeth  to  glorify  justice,  and  you  are  engaged 
to  a  righteous  law,  and  both  law  and  justice  must  have  satisfaction. 
As  the  word  speaketh  no  comfort,  so  providence  yieldeth  none.  All 
God's  dispensations  are  judicial :  Ezek.  vii.  5,  'An  evil,  and  an  only 
evil/  Their  crosses  are  altogether  curses.  There  is  nothing  befalleth 
them  that  are  under  the  covenant  of  grace,  but  there  is  some  good  in 
it ;  something  to  invite  hope,  or  to  allay  sorrow :  '  In  wrath  God 
remembereth  mercy/  Hab.  iii.  2.  The  rod  is  not  turned  into  a  ser 
pent,  and  therefore  comforteth,  Ps.  xxiii.  5.  Whereas  to  these  every 
comfort  is  salted  with  a  curse ;  and  in  their  discomforts  there  is 
nothing  but  a  face  and  an  appearance  of  wrath.  But  the  worst  of  the 
covenant  of  works  is  hereafter.  When  he  dealeth  with  his  people  all 
in  mercy,  he  will  deal  with  them  all  in  judgment :  Rev.  xiv.  10,  '  A 
cup  of  wrath  unmixed ; '  that  is,  simple  and  bare  ingredients  of 
wrath.  Yet  it  is  said,  Ps.  Ixxv.  8,  that  'the  cup  of  the  Lord  is 
full  mixed  ; '  full  mixed  with  all  sorts  of  plagues,  but  unmixed,  with 
out  the  least  drop  or  temperament  of  mercy.  Oh  !  how  will  ye  do  to 
suffer  those  torments  that  are  without  ease  and  without  end  ?  Eev. 
xx.  7,  '  They  shall  be  cast  into  the  lake  that  burneth  with  fire  and 
brimstone,  where  they  shall  be  tormented  for  ever  and  ever/  Nothing 
more  painful  to  the  sense  than  fire ;  no  fire  more  noisome  or  more  scald 
ing  than  brimstone  ;  and  all  this  for  ever  and  ever.  There  is  an  eternity 
of  extremity  ;  it  is  without  measure  and  without  end ,  which  is  the  hell 
of  hell,  that  after  a  thousand  years  are  passed  over,  that  worm  dieth 
not,  and  that  fire  is  not  quenched.  The  brick-hills  and  the  furnace  of 
Babel  are  but  shadows  to  it.  There  was  a  sad  howling  and  yelling  in 
Sodom  when  God  rained  hell  out  of  heaven.  How  did  the  poor  scalded 
creatures  run  up  and  down  in  that  deluge  of  brimstone,  and  shriek 
and  howl  because  of  their  pains  !  Oh  !  but  what  weeping  and  gnash 
ing  will  there  be  in  hell,  when  a  '  fiery  stream  shall  go  out  from  the 
throne  of  God/  Dan.  vii.  10,  and  poor  damned  creatures  shall  wal 
low  hither  and  thither,  and  have  '  not  a  drop  to  cool  their  tongues ! ' 
Well,  then,  it  should  awaken  those  that  are  under  the  covenant  of 
works  to  come  under  the  banner  of  grace.  Those  that  are  condemned 

228  AN  EXPOSITION,  WITH  NOTES,  [JAS.  II.  13. 

in  one  court  have  liberty  of  appeal  to  another ;  and  when  '  ye  are 
dead,'  and  lost  to  the  first  law,  you  may  be  ;  alive  to  God/  Gal.  ii.  19. 
Let  '  the  avenger  of  blood'  make  you  fly  to  ' the  city  of  refuge/  But 
you  will  say,  Who  are  now  under  the  covenant  of  works  ?  There  is  a 
vulgar  prejudice  abroad  which  supposeth  that  the  first  covenant  was 
repealed  and  disannulled  upon  the  fall,  and  that  God  now  dealeth 
with  us  upon  new  terms  ;  as  if  the  covenant  of  grace  did  wholly  ex 
trude  and  shut  out  the  former  contract,  wherein  they  think  Adam  only 
was  concerned.  But  this  is  a  gross  mistake,  because  it  was  made  not 
only  with  Adam,  but  with  all  his  seed.  And  every  natural  man, 
whilst  natural,  whilst  merely  a  son  of  Adam,  is  obliged  to  the  tenor 
of  it.  The  form  of  the  law  runneth  universally,  '  Cursed  is  every  one 
that/  &c.,  Gal,  iii.  10  ;  which  rule  brooketh  no  exception  but  that  of 
free  grace  and  interest  in  Christ.  And  therefore  every  child,  even 
those  born  in  the  church,  are  obnoxious  to  the  curse  and  penalty  of  it : 
'  Children  of  wrath,  even  as  others/  Eph.  ii.  3  ;  and  therefore  are  natural 
men  described  by  this  term,  '  Those  that  are  under  the  law/  Gal.  iv.  5  ; 
that  is,  under  the  bond  and  curse  of  the  law  of  works.  If  the  law  of 
works  had  been  repealed  and  laid  aside  presently  upon  Adam's  fall, 
Christ  had  not  come  under  the  bond  and  curse  of  it  as  our  substitute 
and  surety,  for  he  was  to  take  our  debt  upon  him,  to  submit  to  the 
duty  and  penalty  of  our  engagement ;  therefore  it  is  said,  in  the  place 
last  quoted,  he  was  '  made  under  the  law,  to  redeem  them  that  were 
under  the  law/  So  also  Gal.  iii.  13,  '  He  was  made  a  curse  for  us  ; ' 
that  is,  in  our  room  and  place.  And,  again,  the  law  is  not  repealed, 
because  it  is  an  unchangeable  rule,  according  to  which  God  proceedeth, 
fjLta  fcepaia  :  l  Not  a  pick  of  the  law  shall  pass  away/  Mat.  v.  18,  till  all 
be  fulfilled,  either  by  the  creature,  or  upon  the  creature,  by  us,  or  by 
our  surety.  It  is  the  covenant  of  works  that  condemneth  all  the  sons 
of  Adam.  The  rigour  of  it  brought  Christ  from  heaven  to  fulfil  it  for 
believers.  Either  we  must  have  Christ  to  fulfil  it,  or  for  the  breach 
of  it  we  must  perish  for  ever.  And  therefore  our  apostle  saith,  that 
at  the  day  of  judgment  God  proceedeth  with  all  men  according  to  the 
two  covenants;  some  are  'judged  by  the  law  of  liberty/  and  some 
'  have  judgment  without  mercy/  The  two  covenants  have  two  prin 
cipal  confederate  parties  that  contracted  for  them  and  their  heirs — 
Adam  and  Christ ;  therefore,  as  long  as  thou  art  Adam's  heir,  thou 
hast  Adam's  engagement  upon  thee.  The  covenant  of  works  was 
made  with  Adam  and  his  seed,  who  were  all  natural  men.  The 
covenant  of  grace  with  Christ  and  his  seed,  who  are  believers,  Isa.  liii. 
10.  God  will  own  no  interest  in  them  that  claim  by  Adam.  As 
Abraham  was  to  reckon  his  seed  by  Isaac,  not  by  Ishmael,  'la 
Isaac  shall  thy  seed  be  called  ; '  so  God's  children  are  reckoned 
by  Christ.  Others,  that  have  but  a  common  interest,  cherish 
a  vain  hope :  '  God  that  made  them  will  not  save  them/  Isa. 
xxvii.  11. 

But  you  will  say,  how  shall  we  more  distinctly  know  what  is  our 
claim  and  tenure  ?  I  answer — 

1.  It  is  a  shrewd  presumption  that  you  are  under  the  old  bond, 
if  you  cannot  discern  how  your  copy  and  tenure  is  changed.  The 
heirs  of  promise  are  described  to  be  those  that  '  fly  for  refuge  to 


the  hope  that  is  before  them/  Heb.  vi.  18.  God's  children  are  usually 
frighted  out  of  themselves  by  some  avenger  of  blood  ;  and  do  the 
more  earnestly  come  under  the  holy  bond  of  the  new  oath,  and  fly  to 
Christ,  by  considering  the  misery  of  their  standing  in  Adam.  The 
apostle  supposed  that  wrath  made  inquisition  for  him,  and  therefore 
crieth  out,  '  Oh!  that  I  might  be  found  in  him/  Phil.  iii.  9.  They 
that  presume  that  they  had  ever  faith  and  a  good  heart  towards  God, 
grossly  mistake.  That  justiciary  said,  '  All  these  I  kept  from  my 
youth/  Mat.  xix.  20. 

2.  Much  may  be  discerned  from  the  present  state  and  frame  of  your 
hearts.     If  they  carry  a  proportion  with  the  covenant  of  works,  it  is 
to  be  feared  you  hold  by  that  title  and  copy.     As  (1.)  When  the 
spirit  is  legal.     There  is  a  suitable  spirit  both  to  law  and  gospel.     A 
servile  spirit  is  the  spirit  of  the  law,  a  free  spirit  is  the  spirit  of  the 
gospel.     It  is  the  character  of  men  under  works:  Heb.  ii.  15,  'All 
their  lifetime  they  are  subject  to  bondage.'     Keligion  is  careful,  but  a 
foolish  scrupulosity  and  servile  awe  argue  bondage.     See  Bom.  viii. 
15,  arid  2  Tim.  i.  7.     (2.)  When  we  seek  '  a  righteousness  of  our  own/ 
Bom.  x.  3,  and  settle  our  life  and  peace  upon  a  foundation  of  our  own 
works.    The  covenant  of  works  is  natural  to  us.    Common  people  hope 
to  be  saved  by  their  works  and  good  meaning,  and  by  their  good 
prayers  to  be  accepted  with  God.     '  What  shall  we  do  ? '  is  the